Neil Lennon must topple Brendan Rodgers stat to continue Celtic success

By David Walton

November 18, 2019

The Christmas period is arguably when titles can be won and lost.

Celtic will play as many as 11 games between now and the end of December. These fixtures include clashes such as Rangers (x2), Hearts away, Hibs, and Aberdeen at home. That’s without even mentioning our final two Europa League group stage games.

One year ago, Celtic went into this same period on the back of some good form. Brendan Rodgers would start the winter schedule off with three wins in three different competitions. He secured the Betfred Cup against Aberdeen, and kept our Europa League dreams alive with success at Rosenborg.

Brendan Rodgers’ side started the festive schedule well last season before dipping off (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

But that was as good as it got. Celtic would win only one of their next four matches. Defeats to Salzburg and Hibs came after a dismal 1-1 draw at Fir Park.

Even though Celtic again bounced back with a trio of wins, we then ended December with a 1-0 loss at Ibrox.

Overall, Rodgers managed to win seven of his 11-game schedule last season. Losses to Hibs and Rangers combined with our draw at Motherwell meant that eight points were dropped in that crazy run of games.

Neil Lennon must do better than those figures

If Neil Lennon is to continue the feelgood factor heading into the winter break, he’s going to have to do even better than that.

Brendan Rodgers ended 2018 with a miserable defeat at Ibrox (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Losing eight points including the derby game could be catastrophic with regards to the title race. With the form our rivals are in, we need to keep the foot on the accelerator for now.

Nobody can demand that Celtic win every game they play in. Our players aren’t robots, and slip-ups are inevitable. But back in season 2016/17, Celtic managed a flawless domestic run through the festive schedule. Performances weren’t always up to par, but three points were always secured. 10 wins out of 10 domestic fixtures was the result, with two winless games in Europe.

You get the feeling that something similar will have to play out this year for us to remain in the ascendancy. Given how Rodgers’ form was last year, it only highlights the difficulty of the challenge for Lenny.

Neil Lennon will have his eyes set on a perfect festive schedule (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

But the Celtic boss has thrived on big challenges this season. You wouldn’t bet against him indeed going through the festive schedule without a domestic blip.

With the title-race as tight as it currently is, a flawless run here could be exactly what we need to steer clear of our rivals.