Neil Lennon: Bolton are Premier League material, nevermind Championship class

New Bolton Wanderers manager Neil Lennon says he will try to bring a winning mentality to the club and sees no reason why they cannot launch a play-off challenge.

The 43-year-old had been out of management since the end of last season after a trophy-laden four years in charge of Scottish giants Celtic.

He will work at the Macron with Johan Mjallby and Garry Parker, his assistant manager and first-team coach respectively from his time at the helm of the Scottish giants.

The Northern Irishman, replacing Dougie Freedman who was sacked earlier this month, wasted no time in outlining what attracted him to the club and his hopes for the rest of the season.

“I’m delighted,” he said. “Walking out on the training ground was a great feeling. I’m at a very good club.

“Once I’d spoken to [chairman] Phil [Gartside] on Wednesday my mind was already made up, it just became a question of convincing the club that I was the right man.

“The facilities here are second to none. The stadium is fantastic so I just need to get the first team going now.

“I think we have good players here and the structure of the club is fantastic. It’s got everything you need for Premier League football, never mind Championship football.

“I know some of the players because I had an eye on them at Celtic. I’m looking forward to working with them and instilling more self-belief.

“The first thing is to try and get out of the bottom three and build from there. The reality is that we are where we are.

“We’ve got five points and we’re 14 points off a play-off place. The players are capable of achieving that but we need to find some momentum and consistency.”

The former Celtic, Leicester and Crewe Alexandra midfielder also highlighted what he believes he can bring to his first management job in English football.

“We’ll try to work hard on the training ground and instil confidence,” he explained. “We’ve got 35 games which is plenty of time to get things right.

“I’ve said to players if they played well under Dougie then just keep going in the same vein. If things didn’t go so well for whatever reason, it’s a clean slate.

“The trait I’ll try and bring is a winning mentality, not just in the first-team but throughout the club. It was in our DNA at Celtic to win, a draw wasn’t satisfactory.

“Over my 14 years there as a player and manager I was used to that and we need to try and instil that in the players here.

“Things went really well at Celtic but it was time for a change. It’s a massive challenge but that’s what I was looking for.

“I had six months out of the game but I was starting to feel that itch again. Bolton interested me with this opportunity and I’m very grateful for that.

“I think the challenge is enough but I would like to instil that intensity for the players, to put across my thoughts on the game and the way I want us to play.

“You’re never the finished article as you’re always trying to improve and progress, but it may take a bit of time to get the team playing the way we want.”

Lennon went on to reveal one of the first measures he has already brought in at the Macron stadium – the banning of woolly hats in training.

“I don’t want players training in hats because they wouldn’t play football in hats. Once they’re running around they’ll soon get warm!

“Training was great. The atmosphere was very good and the response I got from the players was excellent so all in all it’s been a pretty good first day.”

It will be a baptism of fire for Lennon at the Lancashire club, with a crucial game against fellow Championship strugglers Birmingham City up first on Saturday.

Main image courtesy of Celtic FC via YouTube, with thanks.

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