Lennon hails title winners

12 May 2013 07:46

Neil Lennon acknowledged the absence of Rangers from the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title race this season had made life easier for his side after picking up the trophy following Celtic's 4-0 thumping of St Johnstone at Parkhead.

The Ibrox club emerged into the Irn-Bru Third Division last summer after descending into administration and liquidation, which effectively rendered the SPL title race little more than a procession for the Hoops. In the event, there were ups and downs this season before Lennon's side retained the title with a 4-1 win against Inverness three weeks ago.

The Parkhead club confirmed their superiority against Saints with goals from Joe Ledley, Charlie Mulgrew, James Forrest, and an own goal from Frazer Wright, as attention now turns to the William Hill Scottish Cup final against Hibernian at Hampden Park in a fortnight's time. "We have proved we are not a flash-in-the-pan team," said the Northern Irishman.

"I know there will be a lot of people out there saying there is no Rangers, it is a one-horse race and in essence there is something to that. We are not going to hide away from that but we have a job to do. We have a responsibility to keep winning trophies, it is part of the DNA of the club and to do it in a certain way.

"Since the turn of the year the home form has been as good as I've seen in my time here. We know we need to tidy up away from home but the league is won now and we can focus on finishing the season with a cup final."

Lennon, who spent the last few days fending off speculation about him taking over from David Moyes at Everton, dampened down expectations of the section of Hoops fans who were singing about winning 10 in a row.

"It is a long way off," said the former Celtic skipper. "The next target is the third. We will take it step by step for that. You can never take football or these achievements for granted. There is a lot of work goes into it, 10 in a row is a long, long way off. Eventually Rangers will come back and they will put in a challenge over the next few years, I would imagine."

Lennon, who revealed he will take in a game on Sunday in his search to replenish his squad for next season, was pleased with the performance of his whole team but especially skipper Scott Brown who returned for the first time in three months after recovering from surgery to solve an abductor problem.

The Hoops boss, who gave his medal away to a young girl in the crowd, said: "It is amazing really. He was very rusty in training but his touch was good, he was full of running and drive and you could see Forrest, Anthony Stokes and Ledley all feeding off him. Any team would miss a player like him.

"But the way the team played was the most pleasing thing. We put a strong team out as preparation for the cup final and I thought there was a flow to us, there was an energy, a freshness about the team so that was a very pleasing aspect to the day and obviously the celebrations afterwards. These are days you want to cherish."

Source: PA