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John Kennedy wants Celtic to go back to basics after taking temporary charge

St Johnstone v Celtic – Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership – McDiarmid Park
(Image credit: Ian McNichol)

John Kennedy will take “small steps” after becoming Celtic interim boss in the wake of Neil Lennon’s departure.

The Northern Irishman resigned on Wednesday morning with the nine in a row champions out of Europe and the Betfred Cup and 18 points behind Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Assistant manager Kennedy was placed in temporary charge ahead of the visit of Aberdeen on Saturday and he outlined his strategy to CelticTV.

He said: “I am going to take small steps, it is a challenging time for everyone.

“No one likes it when people lose their job, especially the manager who has worked ever so hard here.

“We have to get back to doing the basics well. We know performance-wise and results-wise, we have not always been there.

“There have been too many times this season when we have fell short of what we expect and it is about bringing that back and a lot of it comes down to doing the basic things well, consistently.

“I want to strip that back, make the players believe in what we are trying to do.

“Not that they haven’t but when results don’t go your way there is always question marks, a lot of noise around the place so it is stripping that back, giving them the belief to perform and we know ultimately we have a good enough squad here to go out and get results.”

The former Celtic defender admits feeling “strange” to find himself in the hot seat.

He said: “It is not one you are ever really fully expecting.

“We knew the situation in terms of where we were sitting collectively as a group, fallen below where we wanted to be and with that comes pressure but again you have to deal with what comes your way.

“The club have asked me to step in at the moment and take charge of the team and obviously I’m more than happy to do that.

“But ultimately it is not about me, it is about doing the right thing for both the team and the club. That’s all I care about.

“I have to park my own ambition aside and just do the right thing day to day which I think will help the club moving forward.”

Former Celtic captain Lennon took charge for a second spell in February 2019 when Brendan Rodgers left for Leicester and led the Hoops to two titles, two Scottish Cups and a League Cup but impending failure to win a record-breaking 10 successive Premierships proved costly.

Kennedy paid tribute, saying: “Obviously times of late have been tough and everyone has felt that, none more so than Neil.

“I knew him from the past but I got to know him really well and he was giving his all in terms of everything he did was for Celtic and to try to bring success.

“He knows better than anyone that this season we didn’t reach the levels we wanted to but he has given so much of his life to Celtic as a player and manager and he has had huge success so you have to remember the positives he brought to the club.”