Neil Lennon believes the Celtic faithful will come to regret targeting Brendan Rodgers with abuse over his Parkhead exit.
News that Rodgers had decided to quit mid-season to join Leicester was met with bitterness and dismay from the Hoops ranks.
The Northern Irishman guided the club to seven straight trophies and looked set for a historic treble before his surprise defection.
But furious supporters held up a banner during Wednesday’s win over Hearts at Tynecastle claiming their former manager had “traded immortality for mediocrity”.
Club chiefs were also forced to issue a statement the following day condemning the “disgusting and pathetic behaviour” of a group of fans filmed singing an offensive chant about Rodgers in an Edinburgh pub.
But the man who has replaced him insists the part played by Rodgers’ in a golden era for the club should be cherished for years.
Interim boss Lennon said: “It’s an emotional time but from our point of view we’ve only got a debt of gratitude for what Brendan achieved.
“He’s left an unbelievable legacy. He’s one of the greatest managers the club’s ever had.
“But we move on now. I understand the frustrations and things can be said in the heat of the moment that are regretted later on.
“In time I think we’ll look back on Brendan’s time as being remarkable really.”
Asked if he would like to see Rodgers welcomed back by the club in years to come, he replied: “I’m sure Brendan would like that as well.”
Such was the speed of Rodgers’ exit he did not even have time to say goodbye to his squad, but Lennon knows how highly his predecessor valued the team that he is now in charge of.
“It’s been a hectic time for Brendan as well as me but I’m sure when things settle down he will be back in touch because he’s had a fantastic relationship with the players here,” said Lennon, who got his second stint as boss off to a winning start with Odsonne Edouard’s stoppage-time winner over Hearts.
“They’re ready to go again. It’s been really emotional for them as Brendan was here one day then gone the next. It’s a huge void because he was a mentor for them and for some of the younger ones a father figure.
“When you lose that there is a loss there – it’s my role to fill that as best I can and keep them going.”
While Rodgers may have to wait some time for an invite back to Celtic Park, Lennon has a return of his own to focus on as he prepares to visit Easter Road for the first time since his departure from Hibernian.
The Northern Irishman parted company with the capital club just four weeks ago – but he will be back in Leith on Saturday as he looks to guide the Hoops into the semi-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup.
Hibs say Lennon was neither sacked nor did he resign, although the fact remains he is no longer their manager after an alleged bust-up with chief executive Leeann Dempster.
However, Lennon said: “It’s not about me. There might be a few sub-plots with me going back but it’s not the major issue here.
“The major issue is for me to help negotiate a very difficult cup tie.
“I think I’ll get a better reception than I got at Tynecastle on Wednesday night. It would be nice to get a warm welcome as we had a great relationship with the Hibs public.
“It will be a bit surreal going back so early. But I’m ready for it.
“There will be no bitterness going back. Not at all. Far from it.
“I’ve no idea (if it will be an awkward situation crossing paths with Leeann). I don’t think our paths will cross anyway. I’ll be in the dugout and I imagine she’ll be in the directors’ box.”
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