Neil Lennon returned to manage Celtic once again on Tuesday of this week. By Wednesday, he was meeting the players and the backroom staff that his predecessor failed to poach for himself.
By the evening he was in the away dugout at Tynecastle taking charge of his first match. He had the support of his coaching staff, all of whom he is familiar with other than Damien Duff who arrived at the club in January.
The former club captain is back in the surroundings he has spent the majority of his playing and coaching career in. From Celtic Park to Lennoxtown, from the board room to reception, he knows this club.
He has also worked with eight of the current first team squad before, one of which was during his recent spell at Hibs. The rest he will get to know as the season progresses.
It’s a similar situation to the one he faced in 2010 in that he is tasked with seeing out the season. The only key difference on this occassion is that the club are not in as poor a position and he has the experience he didn’t have before.
Nine years ago the club were floundering under Tony Mowbray. Neil stepped up from reserve team coach to take over from the current Blackburn Rovers coach following his sacking.
Ironically, Lennon had been a first team coach under Gordon Strachan. Upon Mowbray’s arrival, he “demoted” the former club captain to deal with the reserves only for him to take the reigns off him less than a year later.
Once more he is tasked with steering the current Celtic team to another title and cup. It is not something that is out of his control.
In 2010, he won all of the remaining league matches, but Rangers needed to stumble and didn’t. The only blip was the Scottish Cup Semi-Final exit to First Division side Ross County which Lennon castigated the team for.
Since then, he has carved out his own piece of Celtic history as a manager. He began the march to ten-in-a-row in 2012 which he then passed onto Ronny Deila, who in turn passed to Brendan Rodgers.
So it has come full circle for Neil now. He has the opportunity to complete a treble upin his return however long it may be for.
Should he manage that, it would put him in good stead as a permanent candidate in the summer. He admitted to the media that he expected to walk through the doors again as manager, just not as soon as this.
I think many of us also felt that one day he would return. I don’t think he would get a third crack as manager so if he is to take over permanently again then this could be it.
I’ll share my own thoughts on that as the rest of the season unfolds. Right now, the focus is on the next game.
There won’t be any personnel changes in the team. He knows who he has at his disposal.
Usually we’d be thinking about the next season, but right now that isn’t Neil’s focus. Having beaten Hearts in injury time midweek he now makes another revistits another old stomping ground tomorrow.
On Saturday evening he is back in Edinburgh to face Hibs at Easter Road in the Scottish Cup Quarter Final. You couldn’t have asked for a more poignant meeting.
It has been quite a week for the Celtic faithful. Even more so for Neil Lennon.
We look forward together. Team, management and support.
We are Neil Lennon. We are Celtic.