NEIL LENNON has confessed the past three months have been the toughest of his managerial career.
The Irishman, who returned to Celtic as interim boss in the wake of Brendan Rodgers’ sudden departure to Leicester City in February, has proved to be a safe pair hands on the tiller.
Lennon is unbeaten in 11 games since his dramatic return as he guided the champions to a 3-0 success over Aberdeen at Pittodrie at the weekend to pick up their eighth consecutive title.
He has successfully negotiated dangerous ties against Hibs at Easter Road and the Dons at Hampden to set up an intriguing Scottish Cup Final showpiece showdown against Hearts at the national stadium on May 25.
Celtic will go into that confrontation knowing they are a mere 90 minutes away from an unprecedented treble treble.
Lennon, speaking to the Daily Record, reflected on the breathtaking comeback and admitted: “I knew John Kennedy from way back, I knew Damien Duff and Stevie Woods.
“But the day-to-day stuff, looking at the style of play, I thought: ‘Do I need to change that?’
“Then I thought: ‘No, hold your water, don’t change it because that’s what the players were used to’.
“I didn’t want to confuse them because they were confused enough at the time with all the hullabaloo going on. So, it was important to be patient.
“Getting to know the players was another thing, their traits and personalities, getting to know the training regime which was different to what I’m used to.
“So, even if we had a bit of a flat performance it was just a case of staying with it.
“It’s been a great learning curve for me personally.”
Lennon is plotting the run-in to an exhausting campaign that has seen Kieran Tierney and Mikael Lustig, among others, having spells on the sidelines because of injury and fatigue.
He added: “Kieran is going through the same thing as Mika with injury. When I came in, we had 11 players injured.
“That was very difficult to gauge, but then we started getting some back.
“Some of them do need a rest. Whether we can do that is another matter. We may look at that over the next couple of weeks, but we obviously have the Cup Final on the horizon, as well.”
The immediate concern, though, is Ibrox on Sunday and then Craig Levein’s Tynecastle outfit at Parkhead on Flag Day a week later.
And then all eyes are on Hampden on May 25, a very significant date in the club’s history.