Neil Lennon interview: Brendan Rodgers won’t be used to the intense scrutiny he’ll find at Celtic

There is no one better placed than Neil Lennon to understand the pressures Brendan Rodgers will face as Celtic manager.

Lennon, who captained the Hoops during his playing career, spent four years in charge at Celtic Park before leaving in May 2014.

He led the club to three successive Scottish Premiership titles and two Scottish Cups, as well as guiding them out of a Champions League group containing Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow in 2012/13.

Rodgers will now be expected to achieve the same domestic success, while ensuring Celtic reach the Champions League group stage this season.

“Obviously they’ll be hot favourites to win the title,” says Lennon. “And from a footballing point of view the remit is to qualify for the Champions League and get into the group stage. That’s what Celtic will be looking for, they haven’t done it for the last two seasons.”

Lennon believes Rodgers has a similar job on his hands at Parkhead to the one he faced after replacing Tony Mowbray in 2010.

“I had four years at Celtic where I had to build a team and I did that successfully. Managing in the Champions League on top of that was brilliant.

“The philosophy there, because we couldn’t compete with the Premier League in terms of finances, was to find younger players, develop them, and then sell them on, which we did with Virgil van Dijk, Victor Wanyama, and Fraser Forster, who are now all at Southampton, as well as Ki Sung-yueng.

“Celtic haven’t got the money that Premier League clubs have, but Brendan will enjoy the challenge of trying to find younger, unearthed players.”

Although Rodgers will be familiar with relentless media scrutiny from his time in the Premier League, Lennon has a word of advice for the former Liverpool boss ahead of his move to Scotland.

“The first thing he’ll have to deal with is the intrusion on his life. It’s a goldfish bowl,” warns Lennon.

“I think he may take a step out, live in Edinburgh and travel through (to Glasgow). That would be better for him. The intensity of the scrutiny you’re under is something he won’t be used to.”

With Rangers set to play in the Premiership next year for the first time since 2012 after winning promotion under Mark Warburton, Rodgers’ arrival comes at an exciting time for Scottish football.

“It’s a big year with Rangers coming back up, but Celtic are well ahead of Rangers on and off the field,” says Lennon.

“It’s been missed. The semi-final this year was a great occasion, Scottish football needs it. The gates that Rangers and Celtic bring will benefit all the other clubs in the Premiership as well, and hopefully they’ll be able to track a better calibre of player again.

“I’m not convinced how much investment Rangers will be able to put in the team, but there’s talk of Joey Barton signing. That’s raised a few eyebrows.

“Mark’s done a great job there and did really everything that was asked of him. He’ll be disappointed to have lost the cup final obviously, but he’s got them up and they’re playing a brand of football that’s very good to watch.”

As for his own future, Lennon is open to the possibility of working abroad after leaving debt-ridden Bolton Wanderers towards the end of the season.

“Moving abroad is definitely something that would interest me, because I’ve enjoyed the European experience (at Celtic),” he says. “No question, if an opportunity arose that I really liked the look of then I’d seriously consider it.”

Neil Lennon was speaking at the William Hill Euro 2016 preview evening. 

Neil Lennon interview: Brendan Rodgers won’t be used to the intense scrutiny he’ll find at Celtic
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