By: Joe Sullivan on 09 Jul, 2012 17:30
AS Neil Lennon’s Celts embark on the campaign that encompasses the club’s 125th Anniversary, the manager has reiterated that this is the time to look forward, not back.
Despite the major upheaval that has beset the Scottish game over the past few months, the manager is determined that this will not deflect the players in their goal to retain the championship or, indeed, disrupt the fans in their backing of the team after their magnificent support during the winning campaign.
From Celtic’s training camp in their pre-season German base the manager said: “The club took its position on the Rangers situation last week along with all the other SPL clubs and it was confirmed that Rangers would not play in the SPL next season.
”Clearly, in terms of where Rangers do play, that is now a matter for others to decide upon, it is something we have no control or influence over.
“We must now move on, and move on with a collective unity between the supporters and the club and the team. We enjoyed that unity last season and we now need this to continue more than ever.
“We now know what the situation is and where we are and it is a situation we must now deal with.
“We need to stand strong, shoulder to shoulder and all work together to continue to move the club in the right direction.
“We will need the supporters to be right behind the team. We want as many fans as possible to come back to the club and take their seat at Celtic Park and invest in the club as much as possible.
“We are now looking forward and not back, we have a vibrant young team, I want to progress this team as far as I can but we cannot do this without the fans’ support.
“Our priority is the same and we’ve approached the year the same way as ever.
“There will be no slacking off or complacency, we have a lot to look forward to and that’s what we are preparing for, but I need to be very clear, we need our fans with us every step of the way.
“We cannot let outside negative influences dictate the mood at Celtic, we are very optimistic and we are very much looking forward to the season but we need our fans right with us”.
Retaining the championship is the main goal this season but the manager is also looking for the team to take forward strides in Europe.
He added: “We want to progress in Europe, I think that’s important for the players and the supporters more than anyone else
“We had a very good campaign last year in a very tough group so the players have a belief about them that they can compete at that level.
“I think it’s important the players get a taste of European football before we go into the qualifiers,” he said. “I’m very wary of the qualifiers, they are very difficult games and our first one is going to be very soon.
“It’s imperative we make inroads in Europe again this year and it would be nice to get through the qualifiers and into the Champions League group stages, but I’m under no illusion how difficult that’s going to be
“But the qualifiers are a major concern because they are always very hard-fought and we just want to get it right this year, so we are doing a lot of preparation.
“Everyone wants to play at the big table and that’s our whole focus. We go into this as champions and that is a fantastic feeling, so hopefully that will give the players an extra spring in their step.
“If we qualify then you never know where it will take us.”
Five Filters recommends: Incinerating Assange – The Liberal Media Go To Work.