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Return to Celtic a 'no-brainer' for Lennon as he gets stuck into 'twice in a lifetime' job

The Northern Irishman gave his first press conference this morning.

New Celtic boss Neil Lennon and assistant manager John Kennedy.
New Celtic boss Neil Lennon and assistant manager John Kennedy.
Image: Celtic FC.

NEIL LENNON HAS said that returning to take the reins at Celtic was a ‘no-brainer’ as he gave his first press conference at Celtic Park this morning.

It was confirmed yesterday that the 47-year-old would take the job for the second time until the end of the season after Brendan Rodgers’ departure to Leicester City.

Lennon led the Hoops to three titles as manager between 2010 and 2014 and the Northern Irishman now picks up where Rodgers left off, with Celtic eight points clear atop the Scottish Premiership and seeking a third consecutive treble.

“No-brainer, yeah. I’m very, very grateful to be here,” Lennon said as he was welcomed back this morning.

“The board have put the faith on me to see out the season. It’s been a whirlwind 24, 36 hours. The most important thing is the club. We’ve lost a manager who will go down as one of the greats and I’ve got big shoes to fill, obviously. I’m looking forward to the challenge, very much so.

“This is a club that means a hell of a lot to me, as a player and as a manager. It’s a privilege. These opportunities come around once in a lifetime. For me, it’s come around twice in a lifetime.

“You dream of it, you don’t believe it. One day I was hoping I would walk back through the doors. It’s come maybe a bit sooner than I thought, but it’s come.”

Facing into a tough trip against Hearts tonight, Lennon is unsure as to whether or not he’ll be in the dugout but shared his delight that John Kennedy has agreed to join him as assistant manager and he will be there, front and centre.

Damien Duff training the U15 boys Damien Duff. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Former Ireland international Damien Duff forms part of the backroom team, and while Lennon said that “Damien will bring real knowledge and experience to the first team squad” yesterday, there was no major mention of him this morning.

The former Hibernian manager explained that this time he’s coming in on different circumstances, and when asked to compare himself now to the manager who walked in in 2012, he said:

“Well, I’m not as volatile. I wanted to take on the world when I first took over. You learn from that, you mellow from that.

“I’ve still got that energy and still got that will to win, which I want to always bring with me. Technically, you learn the game as you go along.

“I don’t have all the answers, and certainly I don’t want to be compared to Brendan. I know some people will do that as we go along, but Brendan has his way and it has been fantastic, and I have my way.

“I’m still always learning. It’s a fantastic learning experience.”

He added: “The thunder is here so I don’t need to bring that back. Just bring some trophies back. That would be the remit. That’s what I’m looking forward to do. I’m looking forward to a real good end to the season for the players and the supporters.”

Lennon plans to stick to his own style and play the attacking football that’s ‘in Celtic’s DNA,’ and he won’t get carried away by the potential to stay in the role long-term.

Obviously, he’d love to, he said, but that’s in the board’s hands.

His ‘passion’ on the line also came up during the line of questioning, and he was asked whether he would want to change his behviour. “What are you trying to say?” he grinned, to a room full of laughter.

“I’ve been on good behaviour this year. I’ve had no issues with referees or linesmen, to the point that I was voted on to the committee.

“Earlier in my career I wanted to take on the world – with a big chip on my shoulder. It’s not a chip now, but I still have something on my shoulder. I like to have that edge. But in terms of my behaviour, I will monitor that as best as I can.

“It’s maturity, it’s experience. Obviously you don’t want to be here now and sit in the stand and not be able to do your job properly — so I’m very aware of that.”

With Hearts — he was struck with a coin during a bad-tempered Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle in October — and Hibs — his former side — both away his first two tasks at hand, Lennon is facing into a baptism of fire of sorts.

“I’m sure I’ll get a very nice welcome from both sets of fans,” he concluded with a smirk.

You can watch Lennon’s press conference in full below:

Source: Celtic FC/YouTube

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Emma Duffy

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