Celtic manager Neil Lennon has touched on the key message from Sir Alex Ferguson that he’ll always remember.
Ever since becoming the Hoops boss, Lennon has had his glory moments and his setbacks. From the joy of winning his first-ever league championship in 2012 to the 1-0 home defeat to Morton in the League Cup. From the 2-1 win against Barcelona in the Champions League to losing to Ross County at Hampden.
There have been plenty of ups and downs, but getting over the latter can certainly be tricky. It’s bad enough for supporters trying to recover from defeats like County and Morton. Goodness knows what it’s like for the managers who have to over-analyse it to see where things go wrong.
But Lennon has stressed the importance of taking a step back to ensure it doesn’t consume you. Speaking to the BBC, the Hoops manager referred to a key message he received from Man Utd icon Ferguson.
“Football management is lonely at times. Everything stops with you. You have to strike a balance, you can’t let it dominate your life. If it’s 24/7 and you’re winning then everything is brilliant, but when it’s 24/7 and things are going wrong you have to have a valve you can turn off.
“You have to find other things to do even though at times it’s virtually impossible. I always remember Fergie (Sir Alex Ferguson) telling me that when Roger Federer lost a final he would take his family out to dinner and they weren’t allowed to talk about tennis. That’s a good one.
“You analyse a game to death but you can’t get it back. Deal with it on the day and move on. Fergie had the horses as a distraction. I like to read. It can’t always be work, work, work or it will grind you down eventually.”
Lennon showing no signs of fatigue
It’s the same iconic figure we have as our manager, but this is most definitely Neil Lennon mark 2.
The touchline tantrums are non-existent. They’ve been replaced with a cool level-headed approach that has been the mark of this Celtic side under the Northern Irishman.
Lennon has yet to receive a single touchline ban since becoming manager over a year ago too. And, despite everything that’s happened this season, he still looks as ready to go as he was in day 1. It’s clear that Lenny has mastered the art of switching off for a period of time.
There are quite simply no signs of fatigue. Granted, nine months or so of constant football management is bound to take it out of anyone, regardless of how many times they switch off in the house. But if Lenny is tiring to any degree, he’s certainly covering it up well.
Perhaps it’s this composure, this sheer level-headedness, that’s allowed us to bounce back from setbacks in such a straight-forward manner. Celtic haven’t lost two games in a row this season. That’s an incredible record. But most of all it shows the bouncebackability of Lennon’s side.
Hopefully, the extended postponement of football can give Lennon a bit more of a rest. But if you were to look at him now, he doesn’t even show the slightest hint that he needs it.