As the Scottish champions have racked up five straight successes before hosting Dundee United on Wednesday ahead of their crucial derby visit to Ibrox on Saturday, Lennon believes there has been a “sea change” in attitude. Especially from the members of his playing pool who exhibited restlessness as they patently sought summer moves. A bracket into which can be placed Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer and Olivier Ntcham.
The Celtic manager considers clinching a quadruple treble with their recent Scottish Cup final triumph may have been pivotal on that front – both in lifting a burden from his squad and allowing it to “really hit home what the club means to them, and maybe they realised they’ll not always get that luxury elsewhere”.
Now Lennon is asking them to banish all thoughts of pastures new for what will only be a short period in their careers … and provide them the opportunity to ride off into the sunset in the summer as the men who delivered the storied 10th straight title by overturning a 16-point deficit.
“We’ve spoken to them already and told them no-one is going [in January] and we may have to take a view in the summer,” said the Celtic manager. “So [we have said] settle yourselves down, concentrate on the job at hand, it’s a great club, you’ve done great things, and have possibilities to do some more great things. You’re talking about four or five months, it’s not a massive chunk out of your life to knuckle down and play, and do what you’re good at. I’ve said to the players we’re not going to put up with any agitation any more.
“[That was a problem during the last, extended window]. It was always going to be a difficult season, high pressure. Some players like the high pressure. Some players like the challenge and some players got to the point where they are thinking ‘I’ve done my bit here and I need a new challenge elsewhere’, which I totally understand. That’s why I’ve not gone heavy on them. We just want them settled now and fully focused on the next five months and that is what I’m beginning to see.
“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.
“I thought we were great at the weekend [in the 3-0 win at Hamilton], probably as good as we’ve played for a while. Good fluency about us, good athleticism, good speed. Real attacking intent. So I was delighted with that performance. Psychologically, we’re moving in the right direction.”