Case of deja Nou for Lennon
Celtic boss must again plot a way past Barca
NEIL LENNON dropped his head into his hands when Celtic's name popped out and was formally inserted in the ultimate Group of Death. It doesn't come harder than Barcelona, AC Milan and Ajax.
"I think it is the best and the worst draw we could have got. In terms of glamour, I don't think it comes any better than Barcelona, Ajax and AC Milan," said Lennon.
"In terms of football, it is probably the most difficult group we could have got. But I think the hard work was really done on Wednesday night and we can go and enjoy the tournament now."
Sentiments like that will once again make Celtic everyone's second club in this season's Champions League battle and after some remarkable results against Barcelona down through the years, Lennon will be hoping for a repeat.
"In terms of travelling and the players, obviously it is not that bad and three wonderful footballing arenas.
"We get the chance to lock horns with Barcelona again and we are looking forward to three more great nights at least at Celtic Park and there is so much to savour about the draw.
"But from my point of view, and from a footballing point of view, it is going to be hugely difficult to even come through the first three phases of the group."
Lennon will be in the transfer market in the next few days and believes that qualification for the Champions League group stage will help his search for talent. "It will in terms of even attracting players, due to the quality of player we are looking for," he said. "We lost three quality players in Gary Hooper, Kelvin Wilson and Victor Wanyama and we haven't really replaced them – we have tried and the six, seven weeks leading up to last night is always fraught and we had to produce the team to come through and it just adds to the reputation of the team.
"This means everything, the Scottish game is much maligned. We know the financial climate here, clubs are in trouble and people on the outside looking in think Celtic are going to win the league, so you don't get much credit for that. But for me personally and my development as a manager, this means everything to me.
"Now it is all about football and can we take them on and work with more exciting players?"
Manchester United will be in new territory when they take on Real Sociedad and Shakhtar Donetsk for the first time in a competitive arena in a group completed by Bayer Leverkusen.
And Arsene Wenger would probably swap with David Moyes if he was allowed after ending up in a daunting group alongside last season's runners-up Borussia Dortmund, Rafael Benitez's Napoli and Marseille.
Chelsea and Jose Mourinho will fancy their chances of qualifying from Schalke 04, Basel and Steaua Bucharest, while Manuel Pellegrini has a difficult task after Manchester City were drawn against Champions Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow and Czech club Viktoria Plzen.