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Tuesday, 14 July 2015, 19:45

Champions League Qualifying Second Round

Lennon hails his Celtic stars

Neil Lennon has hailed his Celtic team for claiming a third straight Scottish title and dismissed any notion that the successes are tarnished by Rangers' travails.

Last Updated: 28/03/14 at 22:15 Post Comment

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The Hoops clinched a 45th domestic crown in the 5-1 Glasgow derby victory over Partick Thistle and the Irishman spoke to Sky Sports News' Weekend Warm-Up less than 48 hours after the Firhill victory.

Lennon admitted he would have liked Celtic's arch-rivals to be part of the top-flight fixture list but added that his team could only defeat clubs still part of the Scottish Premiership division.

He said: "We are in surreal times at the minute in Scottish football. It's very much in a transitional phase without Rangers and it is very, very different to what it has been over the years, but you've still got to do your job, win trophies, try and make the Champions League consistently.

"People were saying it's the death of Scottish football, but we've been okay. The reality of if it is there are normally at least four Celtic-Rangers games.

"They are a huge selling point for the Scottish game. It hasn't affected us too badly, but I would say for the rest of Scottish football and certainly the clubs in the top tier, that revenue is a big loss to them. 

  

"I was thinking about this in the car yesterday. Andy Murray won Wimbledon and Rafael Nadal didn't play in it and he's the best player in the world. Does that make his Wimbledon title devalued? No, of course it doesn't. There's no devaluing of our title success because our main opposition Rangers are not in that division. We have got to stay focused."

The Celtic boss was critical of pundits who reckoned this campaign's success was not as good as the previous year's when the club reached the last 16 of the Champions League before completing a league and cup double.

He added: "We have got better, now I'm not sure other clubs have got better with us in that period of time and obviously with Rangers not being there, it's a little bit more, I wouldn't say easier, but more comfortable and that's the reality of it.

"There's no point me shying away from that, but I still have a job to do, we still have incentives, targets, there are certain parts of the season that gets very, very exciting and you have magic moments like Wednesday night, where you get over the line for another title triumph and those feelings are irreplaceable."

Lennon insisted he was happy in the Parkhead hotseat but revealed he was always striving to improve as a club manager.

He said: "I don't know (how long). As long as the powers that be, the supporters would like me to be here. It's very exciting being the manager here. There's never a dull moment."

"We talk about the contract situation every year. Again I will be meeting Peter (Lawwell) the chief executive, Mr (Dermot) Desmond next week and we always discuss the job going forward. It suits both parties and has done for the past four years.

"At the minute certainly you're thinking is the last 16 the glass ceiling for a Scottish club? But then you come back next year and think can we do it again?

"I think our strategy in terms of bringing in players and selling them on is short-term. I think it will change over the next three or four years and we'll be in a strong position to challenge again and that is a huge incentive to take the club forward."

But he told Sky Sports' Geoff Shreeves he had considered walking away from Celtic after being sent death threats and explosives in the post in 2011.

He said: "I came very close to (quitting) yeah, when the devices that were being sent in the mail turned out to be viable ones. I was thinking about my family, my kids.

"Then I go into Lennoxtown, the gate closes and I see these young talented players that we've brought in from all over the world and they are doing things that we want them to do and I was thinking do you want to give this up just yet?"

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