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Lennon won't dwell on past failures as Celtic chase double

Last week Neil Lennon mused upon the oddity of seeing his face every hour on TV bulletins.

There was no danger of that experience recurring yesterday as the Celtic manager looked forward to tomorrow's visit of Dundee United and the chance to take one step closer to a possible league and Cup double in his first full year as manager.

He and his players may have to bide their time before they can strike out in front in the title race -- a Rangers win at Motherwell today will mean that Celtic have to beat United and then follow up with a victory over Caley Thistle in Inverness on Wednesday to head the SPL table -- but Lennon and his players have the matter in their own hands because of their game in hand over the Ibrox side, who lead by a point going into the weekend.

Before he contemplated those possibilities, Lennon attended to a couple of items of business that had clearly irked him, one being the considerable coverage -- and criticism -- of his departure from the field at Ibrox after Sunday's goalless draw in the Old Firm derby, when he cupped his ears in response to massed taunts from the Rangers support.

"The police told me in the tunnel that my behaviour had been exemplary," said the Parkhead manager.

Another irritation is the frequency of questions in regard to the 2004-05 season, when Celtic took a lead into their final fixture of the season away to Motherwell -- whom they meet at home in the last match of this campaign -- only to lose late in the game and concede the championship to Rangers.

"Everyone asks me about that," said Lennon. "No one mentions 2008 when we won the league on the last day of the season by winning eight games in a row.

"Everyone asks me about 2005 -- it's funny that -- but we have talked about both seasons.

"It might well go to the last game of the season, I don't know, but the players are pretty focused and positive at the minute so it is totally irrelevant to this group of players.

"There are different personalities and different characteristics within the squad.

"The constant is that I'm here with Johan Mjallby and Alan Thompson and we have been through it as players.

"Whether we can pass that experience on to them or not remains to be seen but we try not to dwell on it and focus on Dundee United and getting the result that we want.

"Talking about 2005 is not going to do a lot of good, I don't think."

United, of course, have already beaten Rangers at Ibrox, a result that will ensure they get appropriate respect from Celtic. Not that any of these calculations matter to Peter Houston, the United manager.


"I'm not interested in what happens between Celtic and Rangers, it's what happens to Dundee United that matters to me and we can consolidate the distance between Kilmarnock and ourselves," said Houston.

"We're going for fourth place -- we'll know if Kilmarnock are catching us again or if we've got a chance to catch Hearts after they play each other. If Hearts win, we know we have to beat Celtic to have a hope of third."

Houston, for the first time this season, has a selection dilemma with Morgaro Gomis, Sean Dillon, Mihael Kovacevic and Paul Dixon all back from suspension and only Darren Dods out, which means he must make choices in midfield and attack.

As for Lennon -- who played down speculation connecting Celtic with Motherwell's John Sutton -- he must do without Freddie Ljungberg, Joe Ledley and Cha Du-Ri for an outing that is certain to rouse the home crowd. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Celtic v Dundee Utd,

Live, Sky Sports 4, tomorrow, 12.45

Irish Independent