Lennon winning character building exercise at Celtic
Neil Lennon praised his team's character ahead of Wednesday’s Old Firm clash after watching further confirmation of their revival in the win against Kilmarnock on Christmas Eve.
The solid performance from Celtic was in stark contrast to the Hoops' previous encounter against the Ayrshire side.
Celtic had to come from three goals down at Rugby Park in October to rescue a point, and boss Lennon admitted afterwards that he had considered his position at the interval when his side looked down and out.
Lennon has slowly rebuilt his side's confidence and belief, and a Georgios Samaras double in that 2-1 home win over Kilmarnock extended Celtic's winning run in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League to eight games, taking them to a point behind leaders Rangers. The Celtic boss, though, played down the change in his own fortune from the time when his side were 15 points behind Rangers — albeit with two games in hand — preferring to focus on his players.
“I don't feel any different,” he said. “I am pleased that the players are playing to their capabilities.
“Ki Sung-yueng has been very good since he recovered from a virus, Scott Brown got stronger as the game went on and Cha Du-ri has been fantastic in the last three or four games.
“Then you have the likes of Gary Hooper, Joe Ledley, Victor Wanyama and James Forrest who have been very consistent since the start of the season.
“There were things we already knew about the players from last season but again they have shown a lot of character and produced big goals in big moments in games.
“Any slip-up could have cost us and the only blip we have had since the Hearts defeat in October is the 0-0 game at home against Hibs when we didn't play as well as we could have done.
“But it can change again. There were some things in the Killie game that didn't please me and I know we can play better.
“But we are improving all the time and the players have a good mentality.”
Lennon is keen to build on the current good form against the champions as he bids to bring the SPL title back to Celtic Park for the first time in four years, but he believes he would be better prepared should another crisis come along.
He commented: “As I said at the time I was enjoying the challenge and if it comes again I am more prepared for it and I know more about certain aspects of the job than I did before.
“As a young manager that's good but I want to win things and there is a real determination in the camp to start winning trophies this season.