Neil Lennon's interest in the affairs of the Scotland national team go beyond the performances of Celtic players, or even his abiding fascination with international matches as an inquiring coach. The Northern Irishman uses the term "we" when discussing Scotland and explains: "I have a vested interest. I live here, my son is Scottish, so I'd like to see the team progress and do well."
The personal issue, of course, is not restricted to young Gallagher Lennon but extends to the Celtic manger's friendship with one of his predecessors at Parkhead - Gordon Strachan - from whom Lennon admits he took "lots". "I had two years playing under him and a year-and-a-bit coaching under him and I learned a lot from him," he said. "I am still on the phone every now and again. He is a great man. He did wonderful things here, amazing things, and I think international football suits him. It sits well with him and he looks really happy."
Strachan won three league titles from 2005 to 2008 and twice took the club into the knockout stages of the Champions League but was underappreciated by some fans. There was no outcry when he left in 2009, the only season he failed to win the championship. "It is only after the event that people can say: 'He was good.' You see it at millions of clubs, not just Celtic. But his record could stand next to anyone's as far as Celtic managers go. He is very self-deprecating and always has been."
Lennon said during Craig Levein's tenure as Scotland manager that players had to "leave their egos at the door when on international duty" and is certain that Strachan would come down hard on any arrogance within the squad. "They wouldn't last very long, not long at all," said Lennon of any prima donnas. "The team comes first, he is the manager and he gets the respect of the players. I think his man management is excellent and what he does on the training ground appeals to players. He gets his message across succinctly and he has always been very good on the training ground."
The Celtic manager also feels the national team will become stronger, not only because Strachan's message will be reinforced by training sessions and performances, but because those such as Steven Fletcher, James Forrest, Darren Fletcher and Shaun Maloney can bolster the squad that defeated Croatia 2-1 on Tuesday. He said of Forrest, who has suffered from a series of injuries in his burgeoning Celtic career: "He's a wonderful player. It's unfortunate it has been a bit fragmented the last 18 months."
He added: "There is some real talent out of the squad on top of what they have already got. Gordon has recognised that and I don't think I have seen him as happy after a result for a long time. You can see what it means to Gordon, and the style of football that they are playing is pleasing."
The Caledonian reaction was to jump from the despair of early group results to the eager anticipation of qualification for the European Championship in France in 2016 but Lennon cautioned: "It is promising but I wouldn't get too carried away. This is what we do - it's all doom and gloom and now we're going to the Euros in 2016, so there does have to be a sense of perspective."
But he emphasised: "There is a definite improvement. Winning breeds a lot of confidence as well. The Macedonia performance was the most impressive I had seen from a Scotland team away from home and they have carried that on very well. He knows what he wants, knows what he has got in the squad and is using that to the best of his ability."
Lennon emphasised he would not "totally point the finger" at Levein for the disappointing start to Group A. But he was convinced that Strachan should be given the job after the departure of the former manager. "I think he was the only one at the time who could take Scotland forward and that has proven to be the case," he said. "He won't get carried away. He is very forward thinking, he is intelligent and he has a good way about him with the players. He does it with a self-deprecating sense of humour as well which appeals to the players."
After his success at Celtic, Strachan walked away disappointed from a spell at Middlesbrough. "The timing for him might have been ideal," he said of Strachan's appointment as Scotland manager in January. "He had had enough of club football and fancied the challenge of managing the country.
"It means a lot to him and he has a good backroom there too in Mark [McGhee] and Stuart [McCall]. They are good coaches. They know the game, they know international football really well and have great experience. They are getting the best out of the players and they are good to watch at the minute. "
Strachan now prepares for friendly internationals before the campaign for Euro 2016 kicks off in 11 months. Can Scotland qualify? Lennon replied: "It is too early to say. It depends on the draw. If you get a competitive group then we've as good a chance as anyone."