STV Sport sponsored by Papa Johns

Lennon: I’ll remind Celtic players of the standards they set

The Celtic boss plans to speak to players about what's needed to achieve ten consecutive titles.

Lennon: I’ll remind Celtic players of the standards they  set SNS

Neil Lennon plans to meet with his Celtic players to remind them of what will be needed if they are to win a record tenth successive title.

The Scottish champions kick off their title defence on Sunday against Hamilton and could end their season making history by surpassing the record to lift ‘ten in a row’.

Lennon’s team were awarded their ninth title during lockdown and will return to action behind closed doors after months that have seen the footballing landscape transformed.

The Celtic boss says events may have been a distraction but he will hammer home the message to his players that they can’t let standards drop if they are to succeed.

He said: “There has been a lot of other things going on and now we have to get back to work on what is expected of us and what is at the end of it, if we can accomplish what we want.

“While it is going into a historic season we can’t get away from the day-to-day work, the values and standards the players have set over the last few years.

“We will have a team meeting tomorrow night just to remind them.

“There has been a lot of distractions going around – the pandemic, us not playing football while the English, Italian, German leagues are going – and they have been away from competitive football for a while.

“We have been softly, softly with them in pre-season, now we will whip them mentally now and try to get them into shape and focused on what lies ahead.”

The last Celtic team to win nine titles in a row was the iconic Lisbon Lions side that were champions of Europe in 1967.

Lennon believes breaking the record would see his current crop of players talked about as one of the great Celtic teams, though maybe not quite on a level with Jock Stein’s side.

“It would be up there [in the pantheon of Celtic achievements,” he said. “I think I played in a very good Celtic team, one of the best.

“Maybe not the level of the Lions. I think they are still the benchmark for all Celtic teams and managers. They achieved the ultimate greatness with the European Cup, nine in a row and all the cups that went with it.

“This team would be talked about in those sort of circles if they achieved what we are trying to do this season.”

The Celtic boss believes though the opportunity is there to achieve something unprecedented, the pressure on the team is actually less than they experienced in previous seasons.

He said: “I don’t think the pressure is as intense as maybe it was when winning seven, eight and nine.

“When I was at Hibs you could hear the Celtic fans singing about going for the 10, in the seventh year and when I came back it was really intense, and last season, getting the nine.

“So they have already equalled that record and now they can only beat it.

“It is up to the rest to stop us rather than we put ourselves under massive pressure.

“We have to take it as another season, another title to win.”