By: Joe Sullivan on 06 Jul, 2012 16:43
HE managed the Celts to the championship in the season just past and Neil Lennon has returned to the grindstone intent on repeating the feat this term.
The Celtic supporters played their part in that title fight and the manager is counting on each and every one of them to back the team in another sort of fight this coming season.
He said when asked how the recent upheaval would affect the season ahead: “Rangers are not here now and there’s nothing I can do about that but what I will say is, we need our supporters to back the team now, we need them more than ever to come and support us and invest in the club.
“I’ve no idea how damaging it’s going to be. I don’t know what sort of ripple effect there will be.
“It may make the league more competitive, I don’t know. It may prick the ears of Hearts fans, Dundee United fans, Aberdeen fans and we may see a renaissance in some of those clubs.”
He added: “From our point of view we have a lot to look forward to. I think financially and commercially it will bite us a bit, but the club has its own financial structure in place and its own strategy and we will move ahead regardless.”
The current climate in the SPL has also engineered the idea that Celtic can afford to devote more energy into the European campaign but the manager isn’t taking anything for granted on the league front and stated his intentions as far as Celtic’s title is concerned.
He said: “I’m not too sure about that. We are the champions and the most important thing is to retain the championship going into this season.
“Europe is something that we would like to progress in and take this team forward in, not just the team but the club as well, so we are preparing as best we can for that.
“On Sunday we go to a training camp for a fortnight or so and we will be working very hard in those two weeks to get the players up to speed.
“The European games come very, very quickly and they’re always fraught with danger but Europe is a big carrot for us this year.”
The manager also stated that the recent scenario should have little impact on Celtic’s spending strategy or the challenge from the rest of the SPL clubs.
He said: “I wouldn’t have thought it will affect out budget as we always try and maintain a level ground on spending regarding money going out and the money that we bring in.
“So that hasn’t changed and that was the plan going into this season anyway, regardless of the outcome on Wednesday.”
And he added on the challenge from other clubs: “There are teams that have beaten us last year and I expect some of the clubs to improve as there has been improvement in a few of the clubs over the years.
“I know the gap is big but the challenge is out there for other clubs to close the gap. Everyone’s talking about this league being a foregone conclusion but we don’t see it that way.
“We’ve got players who are competitors and they will want to compete every week regardless of the opposition.
“We won’t take anything for granted as there’s probably extra pressure on us now People might not see it that way and will say that with Rangers out of the way it should be comfortable for us, but it never is.
“We will approach this season as we’ve approached every other season in the past.”
The manager also reiterated that the recent changes in the Scottish game will not encroach on his plans to bolster the team.
He said: “We’ve signed Fraser Forster on a four-year contract and that wasn’t a major issue for us.
“We’re working very hard in the background. We are a big name and we’ve got a big reputation and obviously progress in Europe will enhance that and our budget is unchanged.”
Celtic TV subscribers can watch an exclusive interview as well as the media press conference with Neil Lennon online tonight.
For details click HERE
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