IT wasn’t so long ago that John Kennedy was part of a management team at Celtic that was being roundly panned, particularly in his case for the presumed part he was playing in their defensive failings.

Now that things are going swimmingly on the park, and the Celtic defence is watertight, it would be quite understandable then if he allowed himself to wallow in the praise that is now coming the way of Ange Postecoglou, his staff and his team.

Just as in the fraught final days of Neil Lennon’s last term in charge of the club though, Kennedy’s focus is on the collective, and any credit that is now apportioned to him – just as with the criticism when things aren’t going so well – is to be shared equally.

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From the team’s point of view, that means it isn’t only the back four and Joe Hart who take credit for the fact they have only lost just 18 goals in 25 Premiership games this season, but the more advanced players who set the tone with their pressing of the opposition.

And from the backroom team’s perspective, that success is down to the work they are all doing to improve each individual player on a daily basis, no matter what position they play.

“I’ve been here too long to accept any praise,” Kennedy said. “I know what happens next week if we lose a goal or a game!

“I think sometimes because of the position you played, people relate that area of the game to you. But the focus is very much on improving individuals but also on all areas of the team.

“My job is to support the manager but a large part of the job I do is on the training pitch, doing analysis, working with the players on a daily basis, along with Gavin (Strachan), Harry (Kewell) and Stevie Woods.

“We’ve got a very strong staff here who all have a real focus on developing the players.

“The first team is always about results, but we have players here who are continually working to improve themselves.

“I’ve worked in academies where that is the primary focus, and the first team has only been about results.

“But here’s it’s also about developing the players alongside that.”

Developing those defensive instincts among the likes of Kyogo, who leads the Celtic press with his relentless energy, has been a key to their success in Kennedy’s view.

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“It’s part of the function of the team,” he said.

“I get much more excited when the play is at the other end and the team is scoring goals. But a large part of how we play is how we defend as a team. We meet teams head on at the top end of the pitch.

“That has been key to not conceding or giving up many chances. It’s the attitude they show.

“It’s very easy to kind of take it easy at times, think, ‘I’ll not make that run, or press as hard as I have been’, and before you know it you are defending your box. The guys have kept the foot down in that respect and maintained the intensity.

“We always start with a real intent to press because it leads to a lot of our attacking success. It’s about the whole team and not just the defenders.

“But at the same time, the guys at the back have done a terrific job – just as well as the attacking players who score the goals.”

All that being said, there is no downplaying the importance of a strong central defensive partnership, and in Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt, Celtic certainly have one of those.

The pair are still undefeated in domestic matches where they have started together at the heart of the Celtic backline, and Kennedy is fulsome in his praise of both, while typically recognising that the back-up cast isn’t too shabby either.

“It’s good to have two strong characters like Cameron and Carl,” he said. “They have been key to the stability at the back.

“They’ve played a lot together and you can see the relationship blossoming. It will get even better in time.

"Alongside that we have Yuki (Kobayashi), who has looked good since he has come in, and Stephen Welsh has also contributed a lot as well.

“The squad is in a good place defensively. There’s been some rotation and changes at times, but everyone has come in and contributed.

“The manager has instilled in the team the fact it doesn’t matter if you play 10 minutes or 90 minutes, you have to contribute to the team.”