Lenny’s Three ‘R’s – It’s ‘Ridiculous’ there is no ‘Respite’ but ‘Rewards’ are great

CELTIC have moved on from their pre-season training camp in Austria and yesterday took a short flight to nearby Switzerland to prepare for the third pre-season match of the summer against St Gallen tomorrow night.

The focus though is on the vital Champions League qualifying campaign which will start next week in Sarajevo and will see Celtic having to come through four rounds – eight games – successfully to reach the Champions League Group stages.

Coming back into this after a few years away, it’s even tougher than it was the first time around for Neil Lennon to take Celtic to the group stages and the manager reckons that this is something that UEFA need to look at again. Speaking to the media at the weekend, as reported in Scottish Sun, Lenny outlined his views on the unfairness of the qualifying system as it currently stands.

“The eight games in eight weeks schedule is ridiculous. That’s almost a quarter of a season before a ball has hardly been kicked in the Premiership.

“We’ve touched on this for years and there is no benefit for any team. There is no respite at all for the players — it’s very difficult,” Lenny admitted.

“But I can’t think of the European qualifiers as being arduous. We have to take it on. We have to plan as best we can for games and get our heads around it.

“The rewards are great if we get there — for everyone, not just Celtic. It’s great for the Scottish game and I would really love to do it again.

“It would be special but it is tinged with the fact you have to go through four qualifying rounds.
That’s a big ask being the first games of the new season but we just need to get our head around it.

“Everything we are doing in Austria and Switzerland will be geared towards the qualifiers.”

The fitness of the players is pleasing for The Celtic manager as he builds up to the vital match in the Bosnian capital next Tuesday.

“I’m all right about it. We’ll be ready by then. We’re well into pre-season and the players have had a break.

“I’d like to give them a bit extra as the season goes on — sprinkle it with a few getting the odd weekend off or a few days off just to balance it off.

“We’ll just see how they’re doing fatigue-wise and physically as the season goes on.”

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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