When Neil Lennon took charge of Celtic in 2010, it was a gamble for the club. The former Celtic player and captain was hugely popular, maybe even a legend, but off the back of a disastrous period under Tony Mowbray he was also a risk.
Neil didn’t have any managerial experience to speak of. Yes, he had done some coaching and knew the club, the history, the supporters and the city very well.
That said, Celtic were in a state of flux and needed to improve and soon. After a caretakers stint, Neil was given the job permanently .
He promised to bring back the thunder and he did manage that even if it was only briefly. He also made moves in the transfer market which were warmly welcomed initially.
Success would come his way, but not without enduring one of the most turbulent times in Scottish football history. That period should always be applied when looking at Lennon’s time in charge and what he was subjected to.
Neil was held to his word about bringing the thunder back and he did. That peaked after beating Barcelona 2-1 at Celtic Park to reach the last 16 of the Champions League.
It came at a time when Celtic were celebrating 125 years of history. In contrast, their rivals across the city had just collapsed in every way possible.
There was a poetic feel to this given the personal abuse Lennon received during his time at Celtic as player, coach and manger. That he reigned at Celtic during the demise of a rival club whose supporters had done everything in their power to make his life a misery in every way imaginable.
And so, bringing Celtic back to the top once more and into the European light in such a stunning way was fitting for such a guy. He did so with a threadbare squad as well as his bench on that evening showed.
And yet, it was from the bench that victory was secured. With Gary Hooper and James Forrest both sidelined Miku played up front with Georgios Samaras playing just of him.
Tony Watt’s will be hailed forever. Victor Wanyama’s with equal importance if not the same level of celebration on the night!
Celtic maybe without Leigh Griffiths but we have Moussa Dembele who is enjoying his Celtic career as much as we are right now. Rodgers also has a stronger squad in terms of numbers.
Now, we hope that he might mark the first of many moments in his Celtic career by getting a result against Barcelona at Celtic Park as well. It c as n happen.
The circumstances are different of course. It isn’t Brendan’s first European tournament as a manager and he has more experience than his predecessor.
He is at the beginning of his Celtic tenure. There are also greater things ahead I’m sure.
Still, if he could get a victory on Wednesday night at Paradise, he’d be well on his way to greater things. Borussia Mönchengladbach are still capable of upsetting the apple cart, but Celtic won’t achieve anything if they don’t have a go.
Exiting Europe would not be the end of the dream. This is only the beginning of the Rodgers era.
There is more to come, you can be sure of that. Bring on Wednesday and our old friends, Barcelona.