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Celtic boss Lennon has to deliver title: Tosh

By Graham Luney

Former Celtic favourite Tosh McKinlay believes Neil Lennon is on a very steep learning curve at the Hoops.

Like the Lurgan man, former Scotland international McKinlay was a boyhood Celtic fan who went on to wear the famous jersey.

The Glasgow man desperately wants to see the former Northern Ireland international guide Celtic to the league championship but he knows Lennon is facing a daunting challenge.

A disappointing and short-lived Champions League adventure has heaped a little more pressure on Lennon’s shoulders ahead of the Scottish Premier League season which kicks off today with the Hoops visiting Inverness (12.15).

But the 39-year-old will be judged on his domestic record, with the fans demanding league title success.

“Neil is still on a learning curve as a manager, obviously,” said McKinlay. “He knew it all as a player but it is a different kettle of fish now he is in charge.

“He is watching games, making changes and learning as he goes along. It would have been nice to get into the final qualifying round of the Champions League and have a crack at the groups but that has not happened.

“It's a very hot seat he has taken up. The main thing for him in any case is the league championship. For me, the most important thing is to get Celtic back winning the SPL again. That is where he will be judged and if he does that then we can see how he fares if he takes his team into the Champions League.”

The former full-back was keeping a close eye on the Celtic defence during the Champions League clashes against Braga and the Hearts old boy is feeling nervous.

“The defensive side is a worry,” he added. “They have leaked goals in pre-season and it was the concern before the second leg with Braga.

“One goal for the Portuguese was always going to kill it stone dead and that's what happened. There are goals in this Celtic team, I am sure, but the defence needs to be addressed. Neil is looking for the right blend there. It always takes time for people to gel as a team.

“But, at the Old Firm, you don't always get a lot of time.”

McKinlay is hoping Charlie Mulgrew can do the business.

“Charlie has been given another chance at Celtic,” he added. “He was at Parkhead a few years ago as a youngster. He went away and he has made a name for himself at Aberdeen.

“Now he has to show consistency every week if he is going to hold down a shirt and prove he can play there.”

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