Lennon and Craig Levein, the Scotland manager, have a sound working relationship but yesterday there was the impression that they were the closest of bosom buddies. Lennon spoke with real sympathy and concern for the embattled Scotland manager.
Levein has been getting it in the neck, from some of us in the media and from supporters, after Scotland's damaging draws against Serbia and Macedonia in the opening pair of World Cup qualifiers. The fall-out has centred on Scotland's diminished chances of reaching the 2014 finals in Brazil but there has, too, been a focus on whether Levein can or should survive as manager.
Lennon was at Hampden as a spectator for the Macedonia game on Tuesday and he read and heard enough of the media coverage to turn up for his weekly press briefing yesterday with something to get off his chest. Unprompted, he mounted an articulate and prolonged defence of Levein.
"It [his future] was being spoken about after one game, which is criminal, it really is," Lennon said. "One game into a 10-game series? Come on. A 0-0 draw with Serbia is respectable. I came across a couple of comments today from people regarding Craig and the team and I just found it really crass. I don't know if they were personal digs at him but it's not the time or the place. Football fortunes can change very quickly. A week is a long time in the game never mind two or three months.
"Craig was in a very difficult position going into the Macedonia game. They are still unbeaten and if they beat Wales then they are right back in it. It is not as if they lost 3-0 or got beaten up all over the pitch. They lost points at home which is always disappointing but it can still be rectified."
Levein was the latest Scotland manager to be shouldered with unrealistic expectations, in Lennon's view. He bristled at the idea the Scots, ranked 47th in the world by FIFA, were necessarily so much stronger than Macedonia, rated 97th. "I don't agree with the world rankings. I don't know how they work and how we end up with these rankings. Some people hide behind these rankings and say 'we should be beating Macedonia because they are 25 places behind in the world or whatever', but I don't read too much into that.
"Scotland can't go into games thinking they have a divine right to win, because nobody has that right. It is the same with Celtic. Our history dictates that there are expectations going into every game. Every game is a must-win and you have to handle that as best as you can."
Lennon can always speak about managerial job security with some authority. Only 13 months ago he was the one being told his P45 was coming his way, as Celtic trailed Rangers badly in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League race. One match in particular, in which Celtic went 3-0 down at Kilmarnock, could have proved ruinous for him if his team had not rescued a point. Later he admitted that tendering his resignation had crossed his mind at half-time in the match, not least because he was aware that Celtic losing so heavily to Kilmarnock would be regarded as unpardonable.
He survived and prospered but, as it is for all managers, the open debate and speculation about losing his job was hurtful. The man in the opposite dug-out from him today, his friend and former Northern Irish international team-mate Steve Lomas, has also been on the receiving end given that he went into the campaign heavily tipped by bookmakers to be the first top-flight manager to lose his job. The division has not lost its first manager of the season yet, though, and it will be Lomas's St Johnstone team which takes on Celtic at McDiarmid Park this lunchtime.
"I do feel we jump the gun in this country," Lennon went on. "It's part of a pandemic that sweeps across British football at times. You look at some of the managers in the Barclays Premier League and there is talk of them losing their jobs after three or four games. It's just the environment we live in at the minute. I was in that position round about October or November last year. I was odds on, me. They had stopped taking bets.
"There are quite a lot of people up here who do take some kind of perverse satisfaction in people losing their jobs. It's almost like a badge of honour. The innuendos and insinuations are fired out there for people to take a bite on. I do think it is one of the more distasteful parts of Scottish football, I have to say."