Jeff Holmes Neil Lennon and Scott Brown celebrating a victory at Ibrox in September.
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Perfect 10 on the mind already as Neil Lennon and Celtic celebrate 'remarkable' ninth title in-a-row
‘The title is ours and we deserve it. We are indeed champions for a reason.’

CELTIC MANAGER NEIL Lennon believes they can look forward to their special 10-in-a-row quest with much of the pressure eased following their ninth consecutive title.

Lennon’s men earned their latest success after streaking 13 points clear of Rangers over what proved to be the final six weeks of the campaign.

Their achievement emulates Jock Stein’s all-conquering Hoops side and also the Rangers team of Graeme Souness and then Walter Smith.

History beckons and Lennon admits the prospect of going one better will drive them on whenever next season begins.

“That’s a huge motivation for the players,” the Celtic boss told the PA news agency. “If they needed any extra motivation that would be it.

I wouldn’t say the pressure is off but it’s certainly not as intense. They have equalled nine now and going for 10 is something very special and something we can all look forward to.

Before the coronavirus pandemic suspended play, Celtic had scored 89 goals – more than the total they managed in four of their previous eight campaigns – and hit the 80-point mark, higher than the total they finished on in 2013, when Lennon led them to the second title of their winning run.

“We were dominant in the second half of the season,” he said. “We dropped two points out of 30, scored a lot of goals and played some great football. We were looking at more than 100 goals, 100 points.

“I have got to pay tribute to the players. Under immense scrutiny and under immense pressure, this is our 11th trophy in-a-row.

“That is remarkable by any standards, in any level of football, but they are doing it at the top level in Scotland. It speaks volumes for, not only their talent, but their temperament as well.

“We played some great football, we changed the system and that worked for us, but whatever system we went with, whether it was 4-3-2-1 or three at the back, they adapted to it brilliantly. Some of the football we played was spectacular. And we had a great Europa League campaign as well.”

“We were desperate to continue the blistering form we were in when the season was suspended,” the manager added on his club’s website.

However, do not in any way let this detract from our achievement. While many will seek to challenge us, the title is ours and we deserve it. We are indeed champions for a reason.

“To be sitting here now as the manager of the nine-in-a-row, and having played a huge part in that, fills me with so much pride.”

Lennon and his side were doubted in some quarters after losing at home to Rangers on 29 December to leave them just two points ahead with a game more played.

“What we didn’t do was panic,” he said. “We analysed the first half of the season and we felt that despite that one defeat we had had a fantastic first half of the season, a lot better than a lot of other seasons.

“It was just a question of more of the same. However, we looked a little bit tired towards the end of December. And we felt that changing the system, getting another striker on the pitch might have benefited us, and that turned out to be the case.

“We were scoring goals at a fantastic rate and creating a lot of great chances. And we looked fit and strong. Our last game was 7 March and we won 5-0. We were just looking so strong at that stage.”

Celtic urged their fans not to congregate at Parkhead after the news was confirmed and Lennon admitted he would leave his squad to gather online while he savoured their success at home.

“The players have got their own group chat which I am exempt from, which is fine,” he said. “As far as we are concerned it will probably just be a drink in the house and then we can wait until we are all together and take it all in.”

And the side’s skipper Scott Brown echoed his manager’s words on those virtual celebrations, and says Celtic’s latest title was ‘only a matter of time’.

We obviously wanted to play every single game but, due to the circumstances, we’ve not been able to,” he told Celtic TV. “I think the league has done the right thing having crowned us champions, because it was only a matter of time anyway.

“We do our talking on the park, and we’ve shown over the last nine seasons with how consistent we’ve been. We wanted to continue that, we wanted to show how dominant we’ve been with the leagues as well.

“Everyone knows we had a little blip at the end of December but we went to Dubai, came back and won every single game expect from Livingston, which we drew. It shows the lads’ consistency and determination over the course of the season.

“We were getting better and better as the season went on, we wanted to extend our lead at the top. It was hard that the Friday before the Rangers-Celtic game that it got cancelled, because if we had won that we would have gone 16 points clear, and we believe we would have done that.

“I feel for the lads because we’re not able to get the trophy, we’re not able to have Trophy Day with the fans and with our families as well. It’s hard for the lads that way, but I’m sure we’ll get a Zoom call and we’ll all celebrate that way.”

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