Last night was the culmination of months of work and effort and care and attention and a commitment to the Celtic cause.
Last night we made a little bit of club history and that’s nice, but what was more important was that it drew a line under one period in that history and ushered us into a brand new one. Neil Lennon said in Lazio that it felt like the Celtic of old again, and I understood exactly what he meant.
But he was wrong. This is something new.
This is now Lennon’s team, playing Lennon’s way, and getting results. It is getting results that Brendan Rodgers would not have gotten. Lazio home and away? I suspect we’d have lost those games under our former manager. His record in Europe was lamentable.
Things are clicking right now.
That performance had a degree of quality and sophistication about it which we’re not used to seeing in Europe in the last decade or so. We’ve gone a long way towards fixing our reputation at this level, and that is something I honestly did not expect from this team this early.
We have come a long way in a short time.
If we continue to progress the only obstacle to us going even further will be keeping this team together.
We’ll have all the core elements of it after January but beyond then we need to be thinking of what this summer means. I don’t think we can afford to lose a single top footballer. We need to be pushing forward here, not reverting to type.
Celtic has traditionally failed – failed utterly – to press on from a position of strength. This team is of Champions League grade at the moment. If we go backwards in the summer that will not simply be a mistake, it will be a flat-out disgrace. Edouard, in particular, should be getting taken into the manager’s office right now and given a new deal which keeps him here for two more years at a minimum, and Neil allowed to develop this squad as he sees fit.
If Lennon gets the tools he will take us far. I only have to look at the summer business we did, and how there has not been a single bad purchase. Not one. That’s something to think about. Christopher Jullien, in particular, has steadied the ship like no player I’ve seen at the back in a long time. He has been an immense signing … more of that and we’ll be at the top table next season and vying to qualify from a group there. A big ask? So was this, and we did it.
Qualified with two games to go. Guaranteed top spot with one remaining.
Who the Hell saw that coming, especially in light of our regular European reversals under Rodgers?
We have moved past him now alright, all the way past him.
Lennon is now a man in full command of this team, and it is his team now, playing his way.
What a pleasure it is to watch it all coming together.
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