UNDEFEATED

Celtic continue on being undefeated so far in this season as they have played 20 matches and claimed 17 triumphs and 3 draws. The superb season the side of Neil Lennon is enjoying have given them a very comfortable spot at the top of the Scottish Premiership league with 54 points.

Neil Lennon praised the mental and physical strength of some of his players that have already played 35 games.

“Our performances have been fantastic. There are only a few clubs now in Europe unbeaten and we want to preserve that for as long as we can. That takes a lot of physical and mental strength and they have shown that in abundance’’.

“Some of our players have played 35 games already. That’s a season for some people and we’re not even out of December yet. We would have dropped points this time last year. There is more of a will to win about this year.

“At times it’s not pretty but you can’t always play silky football the way you’d like. You have to earn the right to play and sometimes you have to dig out a few results. But I always felt we were in control of the game but for that 10 or 15 minutes in the second half.”

Their latest encounter was against St.Mirren and even though the scoreboard displayed 0-0 during the 1st half, Celtic came back into the pitch to play the remaining 45 minutes of the match and scored 4 goals as they claimed their 9th consecutive triumph.

Even Zlatan Ibrahimovic of PSG has praised the work of Celtic as he claimed that any player would want to be in a club with such a big tradition and the Swedish giant stated that ending his career at Celtic would be a wise decision and choice for him to make.

STILL HOPING

Celtic’s hopes of advancing through the group stages of the Champions League are hanging by a thread as they are at the bottom of Group H and with 2 matches remaining they will need to win all the encounters which is scheduled to be against Ac.Milan and Barcelona.

Having only picked up 3 points out of the 4 matches played, it has not been the best of seasons for the Scottish club in the Champions League.

The situation is so dyer that Neil Lennon said that the dream of qualification will be an uphill battle.

“It is imperative that we beat Milan at Celtic Park if we are to have any chance of qualification. We were very flat in the first half and I think some players will have regrets because they were nowhere near their best and at this level you can’t have that.”

Celtic also announced the 3 year contract signed with Anthony Stokes as the Republic of Ireland international player has enjoyed a new lease of life under manager Neil Lennon this season following Gary Hooper’s summer departure to Norwich City.

The 25 years old forward managed to score 5 goals in 16 appearances for the club since signing from Hibernian back in 2010.

The signing was confirmed by Celtic’s twitter account.

“Celtic is delighted to announce that Anthony Stokes has today signed a new three-year contract with the club.”

Stokes added on the club’s official website: “I’ve been happy enough with the way it’s gone for me this season. I’d have liked a few more goals by now but that’ll come.

“We’re unbeaten in the league, we’ve been doing reasonably well in Europe and we need to get another couple of results now after that big win over Ajax. Overall, I’ve been delighted. I’m enjoying my football and I’m hoping this just helps me kick on’’.

PRESSURE IS ON

Pressure has increased on Celtic manager Neil Lennon after a couple of bad weeks. The team has slipped to the behind Inverness in the league title race, while they have also suffered a defeat against AC Milan in the Champions league. Things have just gone worse for manager Lennon after his team suffered a shock 1-0 defeat against Greenock Morton in the Scottish cup. Celtic were unable to beat the strugglers in the Championship after 90 minutes, while they conceded a goal in extra time to lose the match.

Lennon said after the match that he cannot criticise his players, who were extremely good. According to him, Celtic did everything apart from scoring the goal that was required to win the match. He has pointed out to the 26 corners that the club had along with a couple of goal-line clearances as well. After this exit, Lennon will have to wait at least one more year in order to get the chance to win the Scottish league cup. This remains as the only domestic trophy that he has not lifted as the Celtic manager. This was a first victory for Morton at Celtic Park for more than 30 years, while they had not beaten the Scottish giants since 1985 prior to this match.

“It’s easy to criticise the players and we did everything but score tonight. We had 26 corners, hit the post and had one cleared off the line. We didn’t take our chances and congratulations to Morton. Sometimes the rub of the green doesn’t go for you. I’ve got to give credit to Morton who defended heroically at times. I thought their goalkeeper played very well. Did we do enough to win the game? Yes, but we didn’t take our chances so, congratulations to Morton,” said Lennon after the match.

EXPECTATIONS

Celtic will be going into the new season with a lot of expectations especially after their brilliant campaign last time around. They managed to win a Scottish double after a long time, while also making it into the knockout stages of the Champions League. Manager Neil Lennon is aware that expectations are high going into the new season, but he is still remaining calm. Unlike in previous seasons, Lennon has said that he is not nervous like last season. Celtic were going into the new campaign last time around with a lot of nervousness in order to get into the Champions League group stages.

Even though they only recently faced such a similar qualifying match, Lennon has said that they are achievements of last season has enabled them to relax a little. Prior to last season, Celtic were not seen in this stage of the competition for four years. There was a lot of speculation that Lennon could leave Celtic for Premier league outfit Everton, but he has decided to stay at the Scottish club for the time being. For now, his thoughts will be on replacing star striker Gary Hooper, who was recently sold to Norwich city.

Hooper has been one of the best players for Celtic over the last few years and his presence will be sorely missed according to Lennon.

“I’ve been to hell and back in the last seven weeks trying to get this right. There is a fear factor and I lived with that. I’ve been thinking of the ramifications if we don’t go through, what it would mean for me, how I’d get through it and how I would get over it. I’m not as bad but I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. I quite like it when I’m a bit on edge,” said Lennon.

LENNON SHOULD STAY

Former Celtic player Bertie Auld has said that manager Neil Lennon should resist any advances from Premier league outfit Everton for the vacant managerial job. Everton manager David Moyes will be taking over at Manchester United from Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer. This would leave a vacant job at Goodison Park for the first time in 11 years. Several high profile names have been linked with the job including Celtic manager Neil Lennon, but Auld reckons that Lennon should spend at least a couple of years more at Celtic Park because he has not completed the formative years of his managerial career.

Celtic will be taking on Hibs in the Scottish cup final after the end of the Premier league season. Celtic have already won the Scottish Premier league and winning the Scottish cup will be special for Lennon because it would have helped him achieve a rare double. Due to his exploits with Celtic over the years, Lennon has been strongly linked with a move to Everton along with the likes of Michael Laudrup and Malky Mackay. The 41-year-old, though, has not come out with a statement denying the rumours, which has increased speculation that he may leave the club at the end of the season.

“Neil Lennon is just a young boy and has a lot to learn. I think he has done a good job. He has done extremely well since taking charge. But I have to say I am disappointed that we have dropped 35 points in the league this season. Celtic have got a squad of players which should have run away with the league but didn’t really. We are 13 points clear at the top with one game left, but it was disappointing to see us lose to the teams that we did,” said Auld.

HOOPER SHOULD COMMIT

The Celtic manager Neil Lennon has said that he wants the star striker Gary Hooper to commit his future to the Scottish club despite interest from several clubs across England. The player has only 18 months left on his current deal and he came extremely close to joining Norwich city in the January transfer window. Celtic rejected up to 4 bids from the Premier league club, while the likes of Tottenham are also reported to be monitoring the situation. The Celtic manager Neil Lennon has confirmed that the club has given a new contract to the player, but he is yet to sign it.

Celtic are aware of the fact that Hooper’s transfer value will be substantially less in the summer due to the fact that he will have only 12 months remaining on his contract. Lennon has said that the player still has a lot to offer for Celtic before moving onto pastures new. The former Scunthorpe United striker has been one of the important players for Celtic this season. Lennon refused to sell the player in January partly because of the lack of time to bring in a replacement. Further, they will be having important matches against the likes of Juventus in the coming months.

“I will need to speak to Peter Lawwell about it but the contract is still there. My advice to Gary would be to sign it. Whether he wanted to go now or in the summer. If the money is there in front of you from Celtic then take it. We had a chat with Gary in Marbella and he said: ‘Look, I want to stay’. We will look at his position in the summer. I don’t want to stop his progression, but we feel he has still got a lot to offer here before he moves on,” said Lennon.

CELTIC WILL BENEFIT

Celtic will certainly benefit from the winter break according to the manager Neil Lennon. Celtic have so far had a busy first half of the season. Not only have they had to contend with the league fixtures, but also the Champions League group stages as well. They have also progressed to the last 16 stage of the European competitions that will resume its action in February. Due to the fact that they will be facing one of the heavyweights in the form of Juventus, Celtic certainly welcome this break according to Lennon.

The former Celtic player revealed that the club will be taking the players to a training camp in Marbella. Celtic have already played more than 30 matches this season, while the tally is expected to cross 60 by the end of the season. This is due to the progression in a number of cup competitions. The season started with the Champions League qualifying match against HJK Helsinki back in the first week of August, and Celtic have been going non-stop since then. The club are the favourites to lift the Scottish Premier league title due to their hugely impressive nine-point advantage at the top of the table over the second placed Inverness.

“We’re Looking forward to the break. The players are into the mid-30s in terms of games, so it is coming at a good time for everyone. It will give the players a chance to refresh themselves mentally and give their bodies a rest for a week. We’re going to Spain for a week’s training and hopefully a bounce game at the end of it. Then we’ll come back and do a mini pre-season training camp and get ready to go again,” said Lennon. Celtic will be resuming the action in the second week of January against Heart of Midlothian.

DRAW DISMISSED

The Celtic manager Neil Lennon has dismissed suggestions that he feels that the 1-1 draw with Arbroath will have a significant effect when the team takes on Spartak Moscow at Celtic Park in the Champions League. Celtic were coming into the match against Arbroath in the Scottish cup fourth-round replay looking to banish memories of the first match. However, they were held to a 1-1 draw with the minnows from the second division, which has once again increased the pressure on the manager. Celtic were on course to record a 1-0 win over the team, but Arbroath scored in the match with just 4 min remaining on the clock.

Neil Lennon made significant changes to the starting line-up for this match, but still, they were expected to win the match without any major incidents. This draw comes as a shock to the players, fans, and the manager. However, Lennon has said that he feels that this match will have no influence on the midweek encounter with Spartak Moscow. The Ukrainian team will have no opportunity to qualify for the next round of the Champions League, but Celtic come with a need of three points in order to progress after having lost the previous match.

“It will have absolutely no bearing on Wednesday whatsoever. It will be a different team, a different opposition, a different atmosphere and a different prize at the end of it so the players will be fully focused and I am hoping to get a different scoreline. You always feel that at 1-0 anything can happen and it did. We have missed a hatfull of chances to see the game off but we are still in the competition,” said the Celtic manager, who is coming under increasing pressure following a recent run of poor results in the league and Europe.

LENNON SLAMS PLAYERS

The Celtic manager Neil Lennon has criticised the players after the 2-0 defeat at the hands of Kilmarnock during the weekend. Celtic are coming into the match on the back of the huge moral boosting defeat against Barcelona in the Champions League. Even though it was a defeat, the 2-1 scoreline did not tell the whole story of the match. Celtic were extremely good against Barcelona throughout the match, but they were beaten by extremely soft goals from the Spanish club. They were coming into the match on the back of the 3-2 away victory over Spartak Moscow – their first in the competition.

Even after the defeat, Celtic have four points from the opening three matches and stand the chance of qualifying for the last 16 stage if the results go according to plan in the last three matches. However, they did not concentrate well during the weekend against Kilmarnock and were the beaten 2-0. The Celtic manager Neil Lennon has said that this result is a reality check for the team and that they should not take their opponents lightly. Lennon said that he was not satisfied with the amount of chances the team created against Kilmarnock.

“We’ve been brought back down to earth with a big bump. Second half, we created some decent chances, but not enough, and we’ve come away with a massive dose of reality. But I take responsibility. I picked the team, so the buck stops with me. We tried to freshen it up, but we were poor. There was no fluidity in our play, there was no aggression in our play, we were very passive,” said the manager after the match. The club will be playing against St Johnstone in the league cup in the midweek action, and will be hoping to bounce back from this defeat.

NO EASY TASK

The Celtic manager Neil Lennon has said that it certainly will not be an easy task for the Scottish club to get past the group stages of the Champions League. Celtic have been drawn in the same group containing the likes of Spartak Moscow and Barcelona, while the Portuguese club Benfica also will play against Neil Lennon’s men. Obviously, one of the biggest challenge for Celtic in this group stage will be facing Barcelona twice. However, the manager Neil Lennon has said that the clubs like Benfica and Spartak Moscow should also be not discounted.

It has been four seasons since Celtic last made it into the group stages of the Champions League. This appearance in the group stages will earn Celtic around £ 30 million, which will be going a long way into addressing the debt issues. There has been a talk that Benfica will be weakened a lot following the sale of two important players in the last few days of the transfer window. They recently sold the midfielder Axel Witsel to the Russian club Zenit St Petersburg for around £ 32 million, while the defensive midfielder Javi Garcia was sold to Manchester city for £ 16 million.

“They sold two players in the window, Garcia went to Man City, and the other player went for a lot of money as well. They still have a very strong squad, though. They may be weakened by those sales but they are still a formidable opponent. We are going to take one step at a time so our focus will be Benfica. We had them watched at the weekend because they are our first opponents and they won 3-0 against Nacional at home,” said Neil Lennon ahead of the start of the group stages. Lennon has said that he hopes his players don’t get injured on international duty.

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