Celtic boss Neil Lennon returns to stadium which holds a few memories

By John Reid

January 22, 2020

Celtic boss Neil Lennon’s visit to Rugby Park on Wednesday night to face Kilmarnock will be the first-time he has managed the Hoops at the stadium since March 2014, when a Kris Commons hat-trick gave the Hoops a 3-0 win.

A lot has changed in that time, it is unlikely that many people thought Lennon would return as Celtic boss in 2019, but that is what has happened.

Lennon’s return to Rugby Park is particularly interesting, as the venue has helped to shape his managerial legacy, no matter what happens in the future.

The first game that at Rugby Park which helped to shape the manager is the now infamous 3-3 draw between the teams in October 2011.

Manager looked certain to lose job

Celtic boss Neil Lennon (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Celtic, already trailing Rangers by double figures in the league, went three goals to nil at half-time. It seemed inevitable that Lennon would lose his job.

However, whatever Lennon said at half-time must have inspired his players, as the Hoops somehow managed to secure a valuable point.

That comeback inspired Celtic to go on an unbeaten run of 21 league games – with 19 wins – which put the Hoops on course for a first league title in four years.

Only six months after the 3-3 draw, the Hoops returned to Rugby Park and this time it was a day of celebration.

Celtic cruised to an emphatic 6-0 victory which sealed the team’s first league title under the management of Neil Lennon.

Inspired a remarkable turnaround

Celtic boss Neil Lennon (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It was a remarkable turnaround from a team which only six months earlier looked as if it was going to struggle to finish as runners-up in the league.

Now Lennon is set to return to Rugby Park in another big game. This time the Hoops need the three points to stay top of the league and keep the pressure on title rivals Rangers.

One wonders if Lennon will be looking back at those two vitally important games as he returns to Rugby Park as Celtic boss.

Hopefully he can inspire the Hoops to another 6-0 victory, but no matter what happens in the future, these two games will always be remembered when discussing Neil Lennon’s time as Celtic boss.