Tuesday 24 October 2017

Lennon talks up 'role model' Rodgers ahead of Celtic clash

Neil Lennon is the latest manager attempting to end Celtic’s winning run Photo: Getty
Neil Lennon is the latest manager attempting to end Celtic’s winning run Photo: Getty

Andy Newport

Neil Lennon admits he still looks up to class-act Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers. The Hibernian manager faces his old side for the first time today and will be tasked with finding a way to half the relentless winning machine pieced together by Rodgers.

Lennon knows the unique pressures currently facing his compatriot having previously managed the Hoops. But the way Rodgers has handled himself amid the Old Firm spotlight has convinced Lennon of his qualities as a boss and a man.

"I've got a very good relationship with Brendan," he said. "He was very good to me when I was coming through as a coach at Celtic. I had a couple of days with him at Reading.

"He's gone on to do fantastic things and I admire him. I admire him for the sacrifices and the work he's put in to get to where he is.

"He's brought a sense of class to the game up here with the way everything is done, whether it be the way Celtic play or they conduct themselves.

"He's a very good role model for any aspiring manager and he's very intelligent too.

"He gets his message across. Unlike myself, you never see him involved in any controversy, so he handles the pressure of the job very well. And he has raised the bar to a very good level."

Lennon needs no explanation of the challenge awaiting his men at Parkhead this weekend as they attempt to become the first Scottish side in 58 attempts to beat the Hoops.

But the former Celtic captain has attempted to defuse the tension in his ranks by describing the showdown as "free hit".

He explained: "We've made a very good start to the season but this will be the acid test now.

"It won't be the barometer for what our season holds if we win or get beat, though. No-one expects us to get a result. "That takes the pressure off a bit in itself.

"The other thing to consider is the fact Celtic played on Wednesday night. They've only had a couple of days to recover and there will be a bit of fatigue there.

The Hoops struck a blow for Scottish football this week when they beat Anderlecht 3-0 in Brussels in the Champions League.

But Hibs defender Steven Whittaker admits it will take a perfect showing from the Leith outfit if they are to avoid the same fate as the Belgian giants.

"It will be difficult," said the Scotland international. "They have talented players all over the park and we need to try and match them. We need to try and frustrate them when it's on to frustrate them, keep the ball when it's on to keep the ball.

"But we all need to be at the top of our game and look to take the game to them whenever we can."

Irish Independent

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