NEIL LENNON admits it will not be as strenuous going for the historic 10 in a row as it was attempting to keep Celtic on course when he replaced Brendan Rodgers in February last year.
The former Hoops boss made a dramatic comeback after his fellow-Irishman made a hasty exit for Leicester City with a crucial Premiership visit to Hearts due only 24 hours later.
It’s in the record books now that the ex-Northern Ireland international and Parkhead captain, hit the ground running.
A stoppage-time winner from Odsonne Edouard gave the champions a 2-1 victory at Tynecastle, it was followed by a 2-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final win over Hibs at Easter Road three days later and Lennon was on course to steer the side to success in both tournaments.
The club celebrated the remarkable treble treble in season 2018/19 and were on course for a phenomenal repeat this time around until the coronavirus pandemic forced football into lockdown.
The SPFL hierarchy awarded the Parkhead men their ninth successive crown with the team sitting on top of the Premiership with a 13-point advantage over Rangers with only eight games to play.
Lennon, who has just been awarded the Scottish Football Writers’ Manager of the Year honour for the third time, insists the pressure of trying to deliver the historic 10 won’t compare to making sure eight was on its way.
TEN-SHUN…Neil Lennon has the t-shirt that displays the nine-in-a-row title achievement. Picture courtesy Celtic Football Club.
The 48-year-old Bhoys gaffer, speaking to the Sunday Post, said: “Next season is certainly going to be one of the most exciting, that’s for sure.
“In terms of pressure, however, I don’t think I’ll ever go through what I went through when I came in the second time around.
“That was very pressurised, a really intense period of my managerial career and one in which I was under unbelievable scrutiny and analysis. I took a lot from that.
“I’ve had a good 14 or 15 months now back in the job, so I’m comfortable in my own skin. We’ve got a real good structure and backroom staff here, as well as a great group of players.
“We got there in 2018/19, and this season we carried it on and played with a real swashbuckling style that the fans enjoyed.
“With the improvement in individuals, the style of play and the amount of goals we scored, we were really good to watch. They are winners and they do it in a style that is very pleasing.
“So, I am excited, I am hopeful and the pressure is one I am looking to enjoy more than I would have when I came in those first few months.
“I am excited and I think the players and fans will be, too.
“It’s something monumental we’re going for and has never been done before, so that’s a huge driving motivation for everyone.”
Lennon added: “Our away record was amazing, really. We only lost two in all competitions (2-0 on both occasions against Livingston and Cluj).
“The volume of goals, the quality of football and individual players developing their game was a big source of satisfaction for me and, in this, I have to thank my backroom team.
“We brought in some new players who integrated brilliantly into the squad. They can take a lot of pride from their first season because it’s not easy.
“You are under intense scrutiny and pressure at Celtic. There is an expectation within the club, with what teams of the past have achieved.
“They have carried on that mantle.”