DEFIANT Neil Lennon has declared anyone daring to write off Celtic’s ability to win their tenth successive title is “foolish”.

The champions are 16 points behind – with three games in hand – as they prepare to launch their historic bid in 2021 once they have hopefully taken care of business against Dundee United at Parkhead this afternoon.

The New Year will kick off with the second Glasgow derby of the campaign at Ibrox with a 12.30 start as the Hoops put together their quest for even more championship glory after a false start in the first half of the term, dropping 11 points – one more than the previous season.

There have been signs the team are picking up pace with nine points collected in three consecutive wins over Kilmarnock, Ross County and Hamilton Accies, with seven goals scored and none conceded.

The Hoops boss, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “I’ve definitely noticed a sea change in the attitude of some of the players and their body language and their performances, as well.

“Thankfully, they’ve knuckled down now and they are contributing in a real positive way.

“I can’t put my finger on why, but they look a lot happier and a lot more at ease with themselves. Obviously, it makes us a lot better, too.

“Winning the Cup was huge for them. That was maybe playing on the back of their minds. Maybe it’s a burden off the shoulders now and they’re playing with a lot more freedom.

“The confidence is good, I wouldn’t say we’re bursting at the seams as yet, but they’re well capable of going on a good run now.”

Lennon endured a torrid period at the start of the month in the fall-out of the shocking Betfred League Cup exit, but he stood up to be counted and played his part in the club beating Hearts in the dramatic spot-kick shoot-out to lift the Scottish Cup to clinch the phenomenal quadruple treble.

He remarked: “It’s part of the job. It is never always plain sailing and every manager since the game started goes through a difficult period.

“I’ve had worse periods in my career. I played in League Two, I played in League One, I managed in the Championship.

“This is a high-pressure job, but that comes with the responsibility of the role. I am very happy with the way things are going at the minute.

“I’m not happy with the league position and where we find ourselves, but our motivation is to rectify that as quickly as possible.

“I have learned a lot in my second spell here as manager in terms of experience and how to deal with players.

“Like I said all along, even going through the difficult times recently I was enjoying it. It was a test.

“I’m not saying I’ve come through it with flying colours or anything like that, but we have turned a little bit of a corner.

“That can change again in one 90 minutes, so we are not getting carried away. We know we have a mountain of work ahead of us still to do.

“But anyone writing us off now would be foolish.”

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report on Celtic v Dundee United this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.

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