WE are now three games in to Neil Lennon’s second reign as Celtic manager. It’s been a decent start for the former Hibernian boss, with wins coming at Tynecastle and Easter Road in his first two games back in the Celtic dugout. Lennon’s Parkhead homecoming was a little more underwhelming, being held to a goalless draw against a stubborn Aberdeen side but it is so far, so good for the Northern Irishman.

We’re still in the early days of Lennon’s reign and although we only have three games to go on, there are some clear differences in approach that we can see compared to his predecessor Brendan Rodgers. We’ve ran through the numbers of Lennon’s first three games to see exactly where Celtic have changed since their new man was appointed.

We’ll start off by examining the league leaders’ attacking play. Before we get into the minutiae of it all, it’s worth prefacing these numbers with the fact that Lennon has faced three challenging opponents so far, so it’s only natural to expect a decline in the numbers that his Celtic team have been posting. Having said that, there are a few worrying figures that should jump out for Celtic fans.

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Firstly, the number of shots Celtic have averaged under Lennon has dropped to 11.7 per 90 minutes from 17.6 under Rodgers. It appears that these figures are representative of Lennon’s approach, too; during the same corresponding fixtures under Rodgers this season, Celtic had more shots in every match than they have under Lennon.

Anyone who saw Celtic’s game against Aberdeen at the weekend, or Lennon’s second debut at Tynecastle, will have noticed that the champions weren’t quite as threatening in front of goal as they have been previously. This is represented in Celtic’s expected goals (xG) under Lennon too - the team’s xG/90 has more than halved under Lennon’s guidance, dropping from 2.2 under Rodgers to 1.08 under the ex-Hibs boss.

In terms of Celtic’s construction under Lennon, we can again see a shift in approach compared to the previous regime. The average number of crosses Celtic attempt per game has gone up from 19.4 to 22.3, while the total passes the team attempt has dropped off. Not only has the number of passes decreased, but so has their accuracy rate. Admittedly, this drop-off isn’t too significant, but it does indicate that Celtic perhaps aren’t quite as tidy on the ball as they were under Rodgers.

Similarly, Celtic under Lennon are not quite as free-flowing as they were during Rodgers’ time at the club this season. The number of passes per minute of possession that the Parkhead side average has dropped from 17.77 to 16.9; again, not a huge amount, but certainly an indicator that things are beginning to slide in this regard.

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Lennon prefers his teams to play a more direct style of football and that is what we are beginning to see at Celtic now. This could be in part through necessity, though. Celtic have a number of midfielders out injured at present and Lennon has started Nir Bitton and Scott Brown in the middle of the park so far, neither of whom are especially dynamic. This lack of a tendency to really push up the park may be the reason why Celtic are playing more directly, but history tells us that Lennon prefers his teams to play in this manner.

Off the ball, Lennon’s Celtic have been more aggressive than they were under Rodgers, with the average number of interceptions per 90 minutes increasing from 33.91 up to 44. Again, this ties into the idea that Lennon is trying to instill a more direct style of play into the champions.

Maintaining the style of football that Rodgers brought to Celtic was always going to be difficult for any manager, and ultimately so long as Celtic keep winning, the fans will be on Lennon’s side. But Rodgers’ immediate legacy at the club is the entertaining and attractive football that he brought, and that the fans are used to seeing. This demand won’t go away overnight and supporters in Glasgow’s east end will surely expect their new permanent manager to play attractive football. Lennon’s various sides have done this sporadically, but not consistently.

Even if Lennon completes Celtic’s ‘treble Treble’, there is no guarantee he’ll get the job on a permanent basis if his football isn’t as entertaining or as dominant as his predecessor’s. The reality is that simply winning matches as Celtic manager isn’t enough. So far, it appears as though Lennon’s team will be a more direct outfit as they drift away from their tactical identity under Rodgers. It might get the job done on the pitch, but it could harm Lennon’s long-term prospects at the club.