Few people would have given Celtic a chance of getting a result away in Moscow, especially considering the record of Spartak Moscow at home so far in the league this season. However, Celtic dug in and they dug deep which is common for a Neil Lennon team. He showed that tactically he knows what he’s doing and that he can also inspire his team when the fatigue is setting in.
Lennon has enjoyed a mixed spell during his time as Celtic boss. He first took over as caretaker boss in 2009 before getting the permanent job the following year. He has done remarkably well considering everything that has happened away from the field with death threats and abuse relating to the fact the Lennon is from Northern Ireland in charge of a largely Republic supported club.
That side of things seems a lot more settled and although he still has people that want him out of the job, he has not let that side of things put him of from being the manager of a great club. It is only natural to expect bigger and better things from Celtic when the manager does not have to worry about problems happening behind closed doors.
“I'm thrilled that we've broken the record. It's not a record we can be proud of - our lack of success away. We were confident in the team and Neil's ability. The best years of Neil Lennon have yet to come,” said majority shareholder in the club Dermot Desmond.
It cannot be ignored that in terms of tactics and how he thinks about the game, more often than not, Lennon gets it right. He has often used his cleverness on football and his tactical awareness to turn games in the Scottish Premier League. Now that Celtic are back in the Champions League, this side to Lennon is going to be tested to a greater degree and if he gets it right then Celtic will see more success.
Furthermore, Lennon could do a lot more with an increased budget. There is great debate over financial fair play rules to be implemented by UEFA. Lennon has never spent masses of money as he makes key and shrewd signings. If he had a few more million to spend, as could well happen over the next couple of years, then he could attract better players and achieve greater things with a vastly improved squad.
“We've got a bigger and a very good squad with a lot of talented players. Everybody at Celtic, from the management down involved in acquiring those players must be congratulated. But let's not run away with ourselves. We've only played two matches, we're playing Barcelona in the next two matches, probably, if not, the best team in the world,” added Desmond.
That is the real test. How Lennon and his team will fair against arguably the greatest group of players to have ever played the game is another question. If Lennon can get his side to believe that they are good enough and if he gets his tactical thinking right, Celtic could be taking on the might of Barcelona for years to come.