HIS confirmation as Brendan Rodgers’ full-time replacement after the Scottish Cup final win over Hearts last May wasn’t universally welcomed by Celtic supporters even though the result completed the treble treble.

So leading the Parkhead club to a record-equalling ninth consecutive Scottish title this term and to the brink of another clean sweep of domestic trophies has been sweet for manager Neil Lennon.

“You always have to prove yourself,” said Lennon. “It was a huge undertaking when I came in as interim manager before we won the treble treble. When I got the job on a permanent basis there were a lot of doubters at the time. That was a motivation for me to prove them wrong.

“A year down the line I think I have silenced them all and I am comfortable and happy with the progress we have made. We have improved in terms of our performances on the pitch and that isn’t a slight on Brendan in any way.

“If you look at the stats from the season just finished to the one before we got better. Last summer I thought we could be more penetrating and we have been.

“We lost two games away from home in all competitions and that was to Livingston and Cluj. That is pretty impressive. Without getting carried away I am delighted with what we have produced since I came back.”

Lennon embarked on an extensive rebuild after the 2019/20 had finished and he admitted the success of new signings like Mohammed Elyounoussi, Fraser Forster, Christopher Jullien and Greg Taylor had been pleasing.

“I feel it is my team now,” he said. “There is still some structure from Brendan’s time and the players’ routines and things, we kept them in place. But we tweaked a few things in terms of training sessions and they way we wanted them to play.

“We looked at things in January and changed the formation and that worked well for us. People might deem it as a gamble, it was a calculated one and it worked out perfectly for us.”