Celtic turnaround surprises Lennon

Updated: 30 December 2011 08:11 IST

Neil Lennon has been taken aback at how quickly Celtic have turned their season around after a 1-0 Old Firm victory over Rangers saw them leapfrog their rivals at the top of the Scottish Premier League.

Celtic turnaround surprises Lennon

Glasgow:

Neil Lennon has been taken aback at how quickly Celtic have turned their season around after a 1-0 Old Firm victory over Rangers saw them leapfrog their rivals at the top of the Scottish Premier League.

Joe Ledley's 52nd minute header at Parkhead on Wednesday took the Hoops to the summit of the SPL for the first time since August and they will head into the new year with a two point lead over second-placed champions Rangers.

The win was Celtic's ninth in a row as the Hoops gained revenge for their 4-2 defeat at the hands of their Glasgow rivals at Ibrox in September.

It capped a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for Celtic, who at one stage in November trailed Rangers by 15 points, albeit they had two games in hand.

Despite always having faith his side could peg Rangers back, Celtic manager Lennon was surprised at the speed with which his side had regained top spot.

"They are a good team and weren't doing themselves justice earlier in the season," Lennon said.

"They were too inconsistent but I always knew they could claw it back.

"I didn't realise they would claw it back so quickly but they always had it in them to go on a run like this.

"I think it was the fallout from the second half at Ibrox, still wrangling with them and myself. I wanted a better performance from them and I certainly got that.

"They didn't play well in the first Old Firm game but they've certainly rectified that.

"If you look back at this run we had to go to Motherwell who were flying high, we had to go to Inverness, St Johnstone and Dundee United and played very well in all these games.

"I wouldn't say this was a culmination of it but to beat Rangers is always special. Under the circumstances they have handled the pressure very well."

However, Lennon had a warning for his men.

"They can't get complacent. We have come a long way in a short time but there is still a lot of football to be played between now and the end of the season."

The result at Parkhead could have been different after Lee Wallace's seventh minute header appeared to cross the line before Celtic keeper Fraser Forster scrambled the ball away.

Nevertheless, Rangers manager Ally McCoist was philosophical about referee Willie Collum's decision not to award his side a goal.

"I have seen it and I think it has definitely crossed the line but sometimes you get them and sometimes you don't," McCoist said.

"I think it was Lee and Nikica Jelavic who were both fairly convinced that the ball had indeed crossed the line. But there is no use mumping and moaning about it as we never got it and we have to move on.

"I have said all along that we should have goalline technology but I'd rather save that argument for another day.

"We will just have to take it on the chin and get on with it."

With a £49 million ($75 million) tax bill hanging over Rangers, the Ibrox club are not expected to spend big in the January transfer window.

And despite his side's recent dip in form, McCoist believes his current squad are still good enough to retain their title.

"We will be fine. We are just half way through the season so there is plenty of football to be played," he said.

"If we get fresh blood in January then great, but if we don't I certainly believe we can still go on and retain the title.

"It will be very, very difficult, as it is to win any championship, but as manager of this football club I have to believe and do believe it is possible."

Topics : Football Celtic
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