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Neil Lennon: A Celtic Fan's Thoughts

Dedicated Celtic supporter and writer/editor of Celtic Journal, Kieran Caw, give LoVS his view on Neil Lennon and explains what Bolton fans can expect.

Richard Heathcote

As it has now been confirmed that Neil Lennon will become the next manager of Bolton Wanderers, here I'll take a look at what the Northern Irishman will bring with him to the Macron Stadium and what the fans can expect.

Often portrayed in the media as an angry, snarling figure, Lennon is actually quite the opposite. He has matured as a manager in the last few years and I don't think we'll be seeing him kick any water bottles or charging on to the pitch to argue with referees any time soon.

The year of 2011 was undoubtably the most controversial surrounding Lennon, yet it proved how strong of a character he really is. Since joining Celtic as a player in 2001, he has had to put up with the most unimaginable amount of threats on his life and physical attacks from fans of other teams (both on and off the pitch) - mostly due to being a Northern Irish Catholic who just happened to play for Celtic.

Bombs, bullets and death threats aren't usually associated with footballers and managers, but this is exactly what Lennon had to deal with throughout his time as Celtic boss. Despite all this, he was able to carve out a very successful four years in his first ever management job. Winning three SPL titles and two Scottish Cups, not forgetting making Celtic competitive in Europe.

Despite little experience, Lennon took over from the disastrous Tony Mowbray and was able to quickly turn a disjointed Celtic side into a team of winners. This continued when he was appointed on a permanent basis and although Celtic narrowly missed out on the league title in his first season as manager, he brought the 'thunder' back to Celtic Park. Perfectly proven by 60,000 supporters partying in the stands, as Rangers lifted the league title at Rugby Park the same day:

Although Celtic play in a poor league, managing the team is far from easy. There is an expectation to win every single game and not many people are able to handle that. As many Hoops fans were calling on the hierarchy to sack Lennon due to Celtic falling 15 points behind Rangers in October, he stuck it out and we ended up top of the table by Christmas.

The point is - Neil Lennon isn't a quitter. He is a winner and he hates losing. Bolton will not be bottom of the Championship come May, if he is given time and some financial backing in January

Giving Lennon money to build his own squad will be very important, but he won't need £10-20M to do so. Although enormous credit must go to Celtic's scouting system for the way business has been conducted over the past few seasons, Lennon also played a big part in turning the likes of Gary Hooper, Fraser Forster and Victor Wanyama into multi-million pound players.

He gave them a chance.

Of the team who famously defeated Barcelona at Celtic Park, after excruciatingly losing out in the Nou Camp two weeks previously, six players didn't cost a penny and the two goal scorers were purchased for around £1M between them.

Lennon's record of bringing through youth players is also to be admired.

Notably, he handed 18-year-old winger James Forrest his debut against Motherwell in 2010, in which he scored. Now, Forrest has racked up 129 appearances for Celtic scoring 24 goals, including one against Ajax in the Champions League.

Since then around eighteen youth players had made their competitive debuts under Lennon.

Not only has he gained a reputation of bringing in youth players, his signings are also usually under twenty-three years of age and a number of teenagers signed by Lennon, most notably Tony Watt, Victor Wanyama and Adam Matthews have played very important roles in Lennon's success as manager of Celtic Football Club.

He certainly knew how to set his team out to compete against the best and is also able to change a game from the sidelines if it isn't working out to his expectations. For example: coming behind from 3-0 down against Kilmarnock to draw 3-3 or giving Tony Watt his Champions League debut against Barcelona, who went on to score the crucial second goal. Maybe a little bit of luck is involved but his tactics are, more often than not, spot on.

Neil Lennon rarely stands still on the sidelines either. He is extremely passionate, an excellent motivator and man-manager, and he will certainly let his players know if they aren't giving 100% on and off the pitch.

Charlie Mulgrew, one of Lennon's first signings as Celtic manager, recently had this to say on his former boss:

"He's a top, top manager and really has the credentials to be a boss at that level. His motivational skills, his tactics and the way he manages players is second to none."

Apart from his obvious highlights during his time in Glasgow, there are a few perhaps lesser known moments that show exactly how passionate he is and also what type of character Bolton fans can expect.

For instance, watch the highlights from when Celtic overturned a 2-0 deficit to qualify for the Champions League last season:

Or, to show what type of person he is, when a journalist's phone went off during a media conference:

Of course, it isn't guaranteed that Lennon will be successful as the manager of Bolton Wanderers, in that he will magically turn the side into promotion candidates this season. The Championship is an extremely competitive league and it is vitally important that results begin to improve quickly or the gap at the bottom will become wider.

What is guaranteed however, is that Neil Lennon will make the players fight for every ball from the first whistle to the last. He has the credentials to be a successful manager and with him at the helm, relegation would be very surprising.

You can follow Kieran here - @Kieran_Celtic and make sure you check out the excellent Celtic Journal.