The Celtic manager spoke yesterday of being "on probation" after a draw with Kilmarnock ensured Celtic trailed Rangers by 15 points in last season's title race. He must, though, have felt like he was on death row when confronted by Desmond, principal shareholder at the club, after the manager's infamous stomp on to the Hampden turf to confront referee Euan Norris after the Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Hearts in April.
The Northern Irishman took exception to the award of a highly contentious penalty. Desmond, the billionaire businessman, was more concerned by his manager's reaction. However, both have been united in one aim. "I said surgery was needed," said Lennon of a chat with the businessman after the defeat by Ross County in a Scottish Cup semi-final of 2010. "There was a malaise running through the club which we needed to eradicate and he agreed with me on that."
Desmond does not, though, find all his manager's interventions as valid. "There's times when he has given me a dressing down," Lennon said yesterday after the Irish businessman praised the manager in the wake of the Champions League victory against Spartak Moscow. "Certainly after the semi-final he was not pleased," said Lennon of the match decided by a penalty to Hearts.
"Nothing the players had done, he just wasn't pleased with me. Yet two weeks previously he had been saying how great everything was. Just maybe little things like that where I maybe put the club in a bad light, then he's not slowing in telling me."
Lennon, a resilient character, describes Desmond, the 62-year-old entrepreneur, as a "tough guy", adding: "He wouldn't be where he is if he wasn't."
However, it is Desmond's support and encouragement that has made the biggest impact on the novice manager. There had been no rant after the Ross County defeat and no subsequent interference in team selection.
Desmond restricts himself to weekly chats, particularly before a match, and to sending his manager the odd improving tome. These are mostly biographies of sporting figures but have included Moneyball, the Michael Lewis study of how Billy Beane invigorated a baseball franchise by canny use of a budget and assiduous study of statistics.
The success of this approach can be found in the names of such as Victor Wanyama, Emilio Izaguirre, Biram Kayal and Adam Matthews. It can also be gauged by the fees paid for Fraser Forster, £2m in the summer, and Gary Hooper, £2.4m in 2010. The goalkeeper is now in the England squad and many believe the striker should be.
"I said a couple of weeks ago he was good enough to play for England and I think his performance on Tuesday justified that faith in him," said Lennon of his striker.
Faith has also been rewarded as the club's support of a manager was franked by a title, qualification for the Champions League group stage and the first away victory in Europe in 21 attempts in that rarefied company.
It could all have stalled for Lennon. "I go back to the Ross County game where we talked for a good 45 minutes to an hour that night," said Lennon of a discussion with Desmond after a match that was lost 2-0 when he was in caretaker management. "He showed a huge amount of faith in giving me the job in the first place,"' said Lennon of his subsequent full-time appointment.
"He's been a huge support. I know people don't think he's that interested – he's very interested. He's interested in the club, he's interested in how the business is running and he's certainly interested in the players and how they are. And also how we're all getting on as a management team. He takes a great interest in that. He gives you great advice.
"He's tough but fair. There have been times where he's given me a dressing down and there are times when he's been hugely supportive and praiseworthy."
Desmond's relative distance from the club has been a bonus for the manager. "He's a cooler head, on the outside looking in. He's a highly-intelligent man. He's always looking to challenge you. He's wanting you to think about things differently. He wants you to look at things from a managerial business perspective than a football perspective. Less emotion and more thought going into things. I've learned a lot from him," he said.
The communication between manager and the man who could be described as owner is regular and detailed.
"I try to speak to him once a week and on occasion twice a week. If not, then it's done through a text here and there," said Lennon. "I try to speak to him before every game to tell him what my thoughts are and what the team is but he never interferes in footballing matters. He gives his opinion, but he never interferes in what we do here."
Lennon has been burned by the blast from Desmond but the relationship is normally more nuanced. "I'm allowed to say my piece. He's not a dictator by any means but he gives me his point of view, you listen and you learn. There are times when I stop and think 'yeah' you're right,' Absolutely. It's made me step away and look at things and maybe see things clearer."
Of those early, critical steps in management, Lennon said of Desmond: "He was very encouraging towards me. I said surgery was needed and there was a malaise running through the club which we needed to eradicate and he agreed with me on that."
That sickness of 2010 has been replaced with a side invigorated by the ambition of both management and players. The manager represents this turnaround but so does Georgios Samaras who played with a such a lack of conviction against Ross County that there was a muttering that suggested he would never play for the club again.
Instead, Lennon described his rehabilitation of the Greek as his best decision of last season and was rewarded on Tuesday night when the striker started his first match since his elbow injury and scored the winner.
"He's an incredible athlete. He's a talent," said Lennon. "He's not motivated by money and he loves the club. I remember the night we won against Rennes and for the first half hour he was taking unbelievable stick. But he showed remarkable character and those are the type of players I love – when you go through something like that and come out the other side even better."
And so has Lennon, with the help of Desmond.
Contextual targeting label: