However it’s early days, very early in fact for a young man finding his way in one of the biggest jobs anywhere in football. Nevertheless it could be that we are already coming to the defining point of this manager’s Celtic career.
Drawing with United, or even being mugged by pouring forward in search of the winner, would have left Rangers handily placed at the top of the league with an outright lead. Celtic, having blinked first in what is turning out to be the mother of two horse races, would have found themselves under considerable pressure ahead of Sunday’s Old Firm match.
Now, with the added benefit of home advantage to come at the weekend, it’s possible that Dougie McDonald’s ridiculous volte-face may actually have confirmed to this group of players that they have both the spine and the flair needed to succeed. Having been tested in extremis, thrillingly they used the best attacking traditions of the club to fight back: simultaneously throwing sand in the faces of officialdom and dashing the hopes of their doggedly defensive Govan adversaries.
We should not, however, get too far ahead of ourselves. As no-one needs telling Celtic are not yet the complete article. Clearly the major strength lies in attack, but a brittleness remains at the back, where our central-defensive pairing is reasonably solid but unlikely to win many footraces.
The goalkeeping position will need to be nailed down in January, as the excellent young Forster is expected back on Tyneside. However, the midfield seems more balanced with the hardworking and cultivated Joe Ledley around; the form of Forrest, McCourt and Maloney in particular has been a delight further forward, while Anthony Stokes and Gary Hooper both look hungry and sharp.
Lennon has, in short, bought well and motivated his charges like an old pro. So far so good; seeing off Rangers to make it nine wins out of nine in the league – as this side surely should – would be just reward for all concerned.