Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

How Neil Lennon must miss Rangers now

Neil Lennon

The Neil Lennon I've known since boyhood has always been a fighter. Battles bring out the best in Lenny.

The greater the adversity, the harder he strives and thrives. It's the nature of the red-headed beast.

From teenage rejection at Man City to established Premiership star at Leicester. His successful battles against a career-threatening back injury and depression. His refusal to bow to the worst types and their vile and violent intimidation.

And as player and manager at Celtic, his relentless obsession to get the better of bitter rivals Rangers. How he must miss them now.

When Rangers hard-landed in the Scottish Third, the very notion that Celtic ‘needed' their neighbours was dismissed at Parkhead as patronising and impertinent.

Money was cited as the mutual bond to prosperity for the feuding Old Firm. But for Lenny the M-word has to be motivation. In Rangers’ absence, Celtic's domestic season already has anti-climax written all over it.

Benfica in the Champions League tonight and Barcelona to follow offer an antidote to the mediocrity. Or do they? Without Rangers to stretch them, a tame Scottish Premier is no preparation for the intensity and skill levels of Europe.

If he is to stick around for the Old Firm reunion, Lenny will need to quickly find a new driving force. How ironic it would be if, having won his war with Rangers, in terms of current status, he were to end up losing the peace.

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