Lennon demands strong finish to season

Joe McHugh

NEIL LENNON wants Celtic to finish the season on as high a note as possible.

Four more wins will clinch the SPL title but a goalrush in recent home matches has heartened the Celtic boss as he looks to challenge his players to hit the heights.

This season will always be remembered as the first without the Old Firm rivalry with no credible challengers emerging from the liquidation of Rangers.

Celtic scored their 100th goal of the season in the 5-0 win over Dundee on Sunday with Lennon looking at a number of landmarks to keep the season going as his side travel to Motherwell tonight.

"We have scored 100 goals already this season so can we get close to 100 league goals?" he asked. "Can we get 90-plus points, can Gary Hooper get 30-plus goals, can Fraser Forster keep clean sheets, can the midfield pitch in with more goals? There is so much still to play for.

"It's a great time to be involved with Celtic. I look at my time and I look at these players now. They are playing in the last 16 of the Champions League and they are going for their second title.

"There may be players who won't be here next year for one reason or another so they should enjoy this time.

"We want to win our remaining 10 games and finish the season strongly. I think the points total is important, we had 92 and 93 in the last two seasons so we would like to get up around 90 again and we still have a bit of work to do to make that target."

Celtic's success on the park, particularly in the Champions League, is reflected in their healthy balance sheet – contrasting with the grim warnings about the finances of Scottish football.

Reaching the last 16 of the Champions League will bring in over €25m in comparison to the €3m reward for winning the SPL which includes television and sponsorship cash.

Lennon has quickly found out about the finances of football and knows that the Champions League cash has transformed the club.

"The club is stable now for the next three or four years and the debts are well manageable," the Celtic boss explained. "I might even get a few quid to spend!

"The flip side is that we will lose a couple of players, if not more, during the summer anyway but we are financially robust and the majority of that is down to the efforts of the players.

"The financial side of it is something that's new to me. As a player all you think about is success, but as a manager you have to think about the future of the club and where we will be in three years.

"We are in the midst of a recession and the economic climate in Scottish football is not great, so for us to have the season we have had is fantastic."

Motherwell v Celtic, Sky Sports 1, ko 7.45