Neil Lennon has insisted taking three points from Celtic tomorrow and turning up the heat on closest rivals Aberdeen and Rangers would mean more to him than ending his old club’s record-breaking run of 67 matches undefeated.
But, he conceded, the Capital club will go into tomorrow’s match at Easter Road again the underdogs despite having turned in promising performances against Brendan Rodgers’ team this season although he argued having no pressure on their shoulders could make his team all the more dangerous opponents. Matches against Rangers and Aberdeen, battling with Lennon’s players for second place in the Premiership table, quickly follow for Hibs and Lennon was adamant his side have to be in a position to cash in on any uncertainty the “Derek McInnes affair” may have caused at those two clubs.
He said: “Any advantage you can get you need to try and take. If there’s a lack of confidence I can’t comment on that. I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes at other clubs. We can only concentrate on what we’re doing.
“We’re in a really good position, we’re very healthy, the club is moving in the right direction, the players are getting good results. So it is very, very satisfying. And we go into this game under no pressure and that’s always a danger for any opposition.”
Lennon believes the Celtic players will be desperate to shake off the disappointment of losing their final Champions League match against Anderlecht in midweek although they have still qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League, but he’s convinced his own players can upset the odds by bringing to a close Celtic’s “incredible record” of four straight trophies and 18 months unbeaten in domestic competition.
The Hibs boss said: “It’s going to go some time, it can’t go on forever, obviously. The record doesn’t faze me at all, it has nothing to do with me, it’s Celtic’s, it’s Brendan’s, it’s the players’. I’m just thinking about winning a game of football like I do every week.
“If we do win it would be fantastic, if we end the record, so be it. It doesn’t bother me. I’m only thinking about how we can perform and get something out of the game because we have two other big games coming up and we’re only a point off second place.
“It’s just that Celtic is the next game, and we’re Celtic’s next game. If the record goes I won’t lose any sleep over it and I won’t jump through hoops either. I’ll just be pleased we have beaten a very good team.
“Three points is all I am thinking about and getting some level of performance from the team to know we can compete against the best team in the division.”
While Lennon hopes his team takes confidence from the 2-2 draw at Celtic Park earlier this season, he pointed out that was a long time ago while insisting they would have to improve on their first-half performance in the Betfred Cup final, which they lost 4-2.
He said: “We know the strengths of Celtic, know what a good side they are. But we believe that we are a good side as well. What you need is all your players performing well - and hope they have a few off.”