Happy with Celtic but '˜big job' at Hibs excites Neil Lennon
Neil Lennon still keeps an eye on what is happening at Celtic but the Hibs boss said his mind is firmly on matters at the Leith club.
While the Glasgow side edged closer to a place in the Champions League group stages, the last man to guide them to the last 16 in the competition was thinking only about a trip to Paisley.
“You wish them well, of course,” he said. “I actually didn’t get to see the game but I was listening to the score coming in every now and again. And I was thinking: ‘Brilliant. Really good’. But then, right away, I started thinking about St Mirren on Saturday and getting really excited about it. The anticipation started to build.
“I’m pleased for Celtic, obviously, and I hope they can negotiate the tie. But that’s not my pitch any more. I’ve got a big job on my hands here and I look forward to what lies ahead.”
Lennon says there is something exciting brewing at the Championship club and that belief makes it easy to sell the club to newcomers like Andrew Shinnie, who signed a loan deal this week and could be in line for a debut, against Alex Rae’s St Mirren, in Paisley, this afternoon.
“He’s a quality player, I think he has good vision,” Lennon said of his latest acquisition. “Technically with both feet he can see a pass. He’s quite an elegant mover, he is very fit, his stats are very good. And he has got a goal in him as well. So I think we have done very well getting in this type of player.”
The fact they have is an indication of how positive things are looking at the club. They may have two failed attempts at getting back to the Premiership behind them but with the Scottish Cup win, the arrival of Lennon and a bumper sale of season tickets, there is a growing sense of anticipation.
“He had a look at us pre-season and I think he liked what he saw there,” said Lennon. “The stadium, the pitch. He has come here to see the facility and it has impressed him. And it says a lot about where we are at the minute. I think he feels there is something brewing here, that it’s a club on the up. We have to make sure that’s the case.”
A crowd of 16,477 watched Hibs defeat Dunfermline last week and that impressed Lennon. “For a club outside of Glasgow, in this country, playing in the second tier, to have that kind of crowd is healthy, to say the least. It shows that I’ve come to a big club. And it shows that, if you can get it rolling, the punters will come.
“I’m excited, I look forward to the games, I look forward to coming in every day – and I’m not looking anywhere else. I’m really focused on what I have to do here. I know people ask about a lot of things, whether that be Celtic or the Old Firm or whatever and I had a great time in that environment but I’m really enjoying what I’m doing here.
“I want to be there again [in the Premiership], you know? So it would be a big string to my bow if I can get this club back up and get it really rolling again.”