Back in mid-May, Neil Lennon made the following observation.
“You are always looking to prove something to yourself every year, or every time you go out there. But the level of doubt surprises me.
“I won three titles in a row not so long ago. I got to the last 16 of the Champions League not so long ago. I think I can do the job all right.”
It was at a time when the treble Treble was still a work in progress, and the word “interim” still lent uncertainty to Lennon’s job security.
Two months on, and with both the permanent position of manager plus the historic target secured, they are even more relevant heading into the new campaign.
The Northern Irishman’s argument that Celtic’s near decade-long dominance has given younger fans a sense of entitlement – in essence made them spoilt – goes a way to explaining the pressure he will be under to deliver nine-in-a-row.
Since arriving at Celtic Park in 2000, Lennon has participated in 10 title wins, as a player, coach and manager.
As impressive as that haul is, he knows history will judge him on what happens next.
Failure to deliver a record-equalling nine-in-a-row blows the shot at going on to make it an historic 10 titles on the trot in 2020-21.
It is the Holy Grail which supporters of both Celtic and Rangers crave above all else.
Achieve that goal, and manager and players alike can look forward to having their deeds immortalised in song and stone.
Fail and – harsh as it may appear to those who don’t know the landscape – there’s every likelihood Lennon would be handed his jotters.
The fact that Lennon is the man charged with getting the Hoops to the Promised Land adds huge spice to the race for the Premiership.
As his willingness to court unpopularity with fans by speaking of the possibility of their having a sense of entitlement shows, the 47-year-old is a man who marches to the beat of his own drum.
One who speaks his mind and takes as he finds.
This is a Celtic manager who gets on very well with both his Rangers counterpart, Steven Gerrard, and who spoke very warmly of his former fellow television pundit, and Ibrox icon, Graeme Souness, a man he described as cut from the same cloth as himself.
Lennon will likely need his sense of self and self-worth more than ever this season.
If his side don’t get off to a flyer – and remember there will be new players to integrate – last year’s success in finishing off a Treble started by Brendan Rodgers will not insulate him from criticism from the same young fans he believes may have been spoilt by success.
In: Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo, Christopher Jullien, Luca Connell, Hatem Abd Elhamed, Tobi Oluwayemi
Out: Dedryck Boyata, Scott Allan, Dylan Forrest, Wallace Duffy, Marvin Compper, PJ Crossan, Regan Hendry, Reece Willison, Dorus de Vries, Mikael Lustig, Emilio Izaguirre, Youssouf Mulumbu, Christian Gamboa.
It has been a curiously stop-start kind of window for Celtic, with lots of energy expended on transfers that haven’t actually taken place.
The champions’ admiration for David Turnbull was underlined when they made their move for the Motherwell midfielder.
However, while a fee of £3.25m was negotiated between the clubs, the 20-year-old’s medical found that “immediate preventive” knee surgery was needed and the deal was off.
Even more drawn-out has been Arsenal’s pursuit of Kieran Tierney, a player who went under the knife at the end of last season and is still in rehabilitation.
An opening bid of £15m from the London club was rejected out of hand and an improved package offer of £25m was likewise knocked back as being too conditional.
While the Scotland internationalist could easily end up leaving before the close of the window, the recruitment of Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo from Rapid Vienna means Neil Lennon can afford to be relaxed.
Likewise the arrival of Christopher Jullien for some £7m from Toulouse should shore up the central defensive options nicely, especially as Israeli Hatem Abd Elhamed, a right-back who can also play in the middle, has been picked up as a replacement for Mikael Lustig.
Even with Leigh Griffiths back in the fold and firing after his time off to deal with personal issues, and Vakoun Bayo back in training, a new striker to complement and cover for Odsonne Edouard remains a priority.
Secure the ninth successive title to set up the tilt at 10-in-a-row. Nothing less will do.
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