Firstly I was pleased to be asked to write this for TCN.
It was my honour to write the inaugural blog for the site and when my site was attacked last year TCN was good to me in giving me an outlet when others tried to silence me.
TCN asked me to have a look into the future ,a couple of years down the road, and look what was possible for this Celtic team.
Well I make no claims to be a football expert let alone a clairvoyant.
However, a couple of things are, I think, discernible.
We have one of the best young managers in Europe.
What he has come through in terms of what he has had to suffer from the racist crazies who target him is unparalleled in British football.
He has been assaulted on numerous occasions, including in the technical area doing his job.
Bullets and “devices” have been sent to him.
People are serving prison sentences for trying to cause him harm.
Being a football manager is a highly stressful job, that’s a given, however, what Neil Francis Lennon has been through is off the scale.
Really, outrageous stuff.
Through all of that, in his first managerial job, he has learned and developed.
He has got a young squad to gel to the extent that they do what Martin O’Neill’s team-even with Henke-could not do and that is win away from home in European competitions.
So far, so very good indeed.
With the death of our city rivals Europe will be the benchmark of Lennon’s Celtic.
A lot depends on whether or not the board allow Lenny to keep this squad together.
They could cash in next summer with several big money sales, but I hope they don’t and instead keep on doing what they’re doing now.
The business model for the club is that if we do not have CL money then a player must be sold.
Last year we did neither and took the hit.
So this year we had to do both.
I am gutted that we sold Ki, but central midfield remains a strong area of the squad.
In Victor Wanyama we have a genuine star and the big boys in the EPL are already running the rule over him.
We DID buy him to sell him on at some stage that is the model the club works to now.
Will he be the “McGeady sale” for next summer?
If he is then we will make a massive profit on him and others will replace him.
The sale of Wanyama, if it happens, won’t be an event, it will be part of a process.
Probably the most important person in all of this is John Park.
I have heard that the man that drills for football treasure around the world is also being tracked by other clubs.
He certainly has an eye for a player.
If Lenny is allowed to keep the core of this young team together and John Park continues to play a blinder then I see a real chance of European progress for this Celtic team.
The first team squad are all on the right side of 30.
Big Fraser is 24.
Mathews is only 20.
Kelvin Wilson 27
Big Efe is 24
Charlie Mulgrew 26.
Joe Ledley 25
James Forrest 21.
Commons is the old man of the squad at 29
Anthony Stokes 24.
Tony Watt 18
This team and most of the players in it have their best years in front of them.
The skipper was a big money purchase by Gordon Strachan.
Sammy cost money from City, again a Strachan acquisition.
Both Scott Brown and big Georgios have, in my opinion, improved as players during Neil Lennon’s time in charge.
Only Hooperman cost the club over £2Million under Lenny.
I know that the fee reported in the mainstream media for Efrain Juarez was well wide of the mark.
Miku is a loan deal with an option to buy and it is too early to judge Lassad.
However, it is fair to say that Lenny and his backroom staff have assembled a young squad at little cost.
Moreover, this Celtic team have dealt with the “no away victory in Europe” monkey on the club’s back by means of a judo throw in Moscow that Vladimir Putin would have been proud of.
The pesky primate was slammed into the Russian AstroTurf and since then this Celtic team know they’ve got this European thing sussed.
Teams with massively bigger budgets than Celtic will get hammered in the Camp Nou.
I am sure the home crowd will enjoy the party in Paradise this week, but anything from the second match against Barca will be a massive bonus.
It is the six points that are up for grabs against Spartak and Benfica will be the key.
I am hopeful that this group of players have the minerals to do the business for their young manager.
Moreover, I think the European credentials of Lennon’s Celtic team are about to be further underlined later this month in a city that we all love.