Neil Lennon: New season is a new page
NEIL Lennon yesterday contemplated a new chapter in Scottish football history as Celtic prepare to begin their championship title defence against Aberdeen today.
Instead of trips to Ibrox for high-octane Old Firm matches, the Celtic manager’s competitive thirst will have to be sated by visits to Tynecastle and Pittodrie, home of today’s opponents. Replacing relegated Dunfermline and liquidated Rangers in the Scottish Premier League are Ross County and Dundee, where Lennon made his Celtic debut in 2000.
“It’s going to be different,” said Lennon, when asked about the change in dynamic yesterday. No longer will every Celtic result be set in the context of how Rangers fared, and vice versa. “It’s going to be strange not having that sort of nip and tuck,” continued the Celtic manager. “But we have to deal with that, experience that when it comes along. It’s going to be a new experience for all of Scottish football, I suppose.”
Lennon has detected a “feel-good factor” among other supporters. However, there will be no change to the usual routine of seeking to establish an advantage over their rivals as early as possible. “We’ve got to get our noses in front and stay there, show a level of consistency that we showed for the previous two seasons,” said Lennon, who expects Aberdeen to “make a significant improvement” on previous years.
The Celtic manager also referred to the new season as a “new page” for his players. Emilio Izaguirre and Kris Commons are two who are hoping to rediscover their mojo after difficult spells in their Parkhead careers.
“This is a new page, that’s what we’ve told the players,” said Lennon. “If you did well last year, same again. If you didn’t, you have a blank canvas, so force your way into the team or find your form. Last season is gone, it’s history, this is a new start. We’re trying to build a consistent team for the next few years, regardless of whether Rangers are there or not.”
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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