Had the official Celtic Twitter account asked fans to describe Neil Lennon in one word three months ago they may have got a rather negative response.
When Celtic crashed out of the Champions League to Cluj in mid-August the knives were out for the Northern Irishman. Many had given him the benefit of the doubt despite not being overwhelmed by his post Scottish Cup final award of the job. When his new look side shipped four goals at home to the Romanians it was time for action.
But fast forward 12 weeks and the perception is very different. Six Europa League matches have followed – five of them won – and Celtic have secured safe passage to the last 32 of the competition. With two games to spare.
The 2-1 success away to Lazio has the feeling of a defining moment in Lennon and the Celtic faithful’s relationship. It may well by the first time he has properly had everyone on board during his second tenure.
So when the club asked fans on social media to describe their manager, it was no surprise to see the unified positive response.
— Ryan (@ElyounoussiCSC) November 8, 2019
— Cole (@coledrummond67) November 8, 2019
— Bolingoli (@TooTrot) November 8, 2019
— Larsson's (Bayo's) Son (@ProjectKeekz) November 8, 2019
— Noel (@Noel94829185) November 8, 2019
All fitting replies. Former Celtic player Simon Donnelly also waded into the debate with perhaps a sly dig at Lennon’s predecessor.
— Simon Donnelly (@SimonDonnelly13) November 8, 2019
However, as it often the case on social media, some people just couldn’t take matters seriously.
— Connor (@_CLMike_) November 8, 2019
— Pedro (@Pedro29382540) November 8, 2019
— MB (@melbourne88) November 8, 2019
— Mick (@Comiskey_90) November 8, 2019
Lennon has now earned the trust of the fans
There is always a level of scrutiny on any Celtic manager. However, Neil Lennon’s last six months have been particularly intrusive. Perhaps it was always going to be the case following on from Brendan Rodgers – who knew nothing but success on the domestic front.
Lennon is a far less polished figure than his compatriot but he does make up for that in honesty. Nevertheless, the early decisions of his second reign have been questioned by many supporters as if he doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. Lennon’s European record actually far outshines his predecessor. Rodgers could only dream of results like Thursday’s during his time in charge.
Hopefully now Lennon will have the full backing and trust of the Hoops faithful. He has earned the chance to make big calls and not be second guessed. Getting over that hurdle can only be a positive for a bright future under the man from Lurgan.