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Manager: backroom staff have been brilliant for me

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THE team on the park has delivered a ninth successive league title to Paradise, and Neil Lennon is full of praise for his players’ efforts in this title-winning campaign.

The Celtic manager also knows how important the team off the park has been, and he praised the efforts of everyone working at the club.

“I’m absolutely delighted because I came in under a lot of pressure and a lot of scrutiny,” Neil Lennon told Celtic TV “This season has probably been as important as any season to me personally, and the players responded to what I asked them brilliantly.

“It’s tough, there’s no question there’s big responsibility and a lot of pressure, but I’m 48 now and I’m far more experienced and I’ve enjoyed it so much.

“John Kennedy does an unbelievable job for me in terms of the organisation and the coaching side of things. Damien Duff is a great partner for him and they forged a real good team together. Stevie Woods has been amazing over the years when you think of the goalkeepers that he’s worked with, and he keeps perfecting his craft as well. He’s very professional. So that core group of staff has been so essential to me and so important.

“Allied to that, the fitness side of things. I think the players have looked really strong this season. When I look back to some of the games this season and how fit they looked, John Currie played a big role in that. I’ve got a real core of diligent professional staff – I include Jack Nayler in that, and Tim Williamson the physio, so it’s a real team effort.

“Their work ethic is absolutely brilliant and their pride in what they do jumps out at me, and that was really evident when I first took the job on, how professional and diligent and hard-working they are.”

It was just over a year ago, at the end of February 2019, that Neil Lennon returned to Paradise to steer the club to another domestic treble.

And as well as the invaluable help he received from his backroom staff, there were already a few familiar faces in the Celtic dressing-room from his previous spell as manager, including Scott Brown and James Forrest.

“It was a help knowing some of the players from my previous time, and you include Mikael Lustig in that as well,” he said. “But the culture of the club had changed, the social scene had changed, and the professional scene had changed as well, so I had to adapt to that rather than the players adapting to me, especially at a time when we were in March, with only eight games to go in the league.

“It was crucial that I didn’t come in and change too much too soon, or change the way things I wanted them to go, so I had to be very delicate with that and, again, John Kennedy played a big part of that in terms of – he knew the players inside out.

“We tweaked a few things but the structure and organisation for the players is, relatively, still the same for the players, but the way we wanted to play changed a little bit and we’ve been successful either way and, again, that’s fantastic.”

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