Lennon Leaves Celtic In Paradise


Neil Lennon has decided to call time on his Celtic career. He managed the club for the past four years.

In that time Celtic won three league championships and two Scottish Cups. Plus last season they managed to reach the last sixteen of the Champions League.

It is easy to forget that when Lennon came in, Celtic were in total disarray. Tony Mowbray was manager for eight months and left the club in a shambles and low on any confidence.

Lennon was given the job as manager on a caretaker basis but he did enough in the league run-in to suggest  to the Celtic board that he should get a proper crack of the whip the next season. A lot of that was down to the support Neil would get from both the players and the fans, who had always adored Lennon’s style and passion for the team.

The Northern Irishman would celebrate his first full season in charge by winning the Scottish Cup. Again they would have to settle with the runners up spot in the SPL but Lennon’s side had pushed the experienced Rangers team led by Water Smith all the way.

In his second full season, Lennon would see his side lose ground on Rangers very early on in the campaign. In fact it was widely suggested that the manager was only forty-five minutes from getting the sack at his beloved Celtic. At Rugby Park in October 2011 the ‘Hoops’ were three goals down at half time. The side would pull all three goals back and that comeback spurred the Glasgow east-end club on to a fine run of form that seen them overhaul the Rangers point difference. Celtic would deservedly see out that term as league champions.

Then came the fall from Rangers. Without them in the top flight it certainly made things easier for Lennon and his troops in terms of winning the domestic league. But the lack of a serious competitor did seem to make the football at Parkhead seem a bit stale. Lennon himself just didn’t seem to have the same hunger in the dugout as he did when the other side of the Old Firm were in town.

That was until the big nights arrived at Celtic Park. The whole club from manager to the fans, from the board to the players love European nights. Under Lennon Celtic enjoyed some great Euro occasions. Like the exciting comeback they had at the start of this campaign against Karagandy. The away victory in Russia over Spartak Moscow, a triumph over Ajax and the draw with Udinese in Italy are also highlights.

But the 2-1 victory over the mighty Barcelona back in 2012/13 was Neil Lennon’s crowning glory. The whole world knew of Celtic and their manager that night. It wasn’t a defensive, sneaky victory either. The Celtic team played good football and weren’t over awed with the situation.

One big plus point for Lennon the manager is his man management skills. He has coached and helped developed players such as Emilio Izaguirre, Victor Wanyama, Charlie Mulgrew, Fraser Forster, Gary Hooper, Joe Ledley and Ki Sung-Yueng. Some of those players have left Parkhead but usually for a nice profit. The ones that remained will be worth more than the fees the club initially paid for their services. One thing is for sure, they all became better having worked under Neil Lennon.

So what next for the forty-two year old?

Well he obviously wants a change. A move back to England would seem like the most likely destination. Norwich and West Brom are already looking for new bosses and have been linked with the now former Celtic boss. Mauricio Pochettino may leave Southampton for Spurs and that position may look good for Lennon.

What kind of manager will his next club get? 

Well Neil Lennon is a bit like Marmite in Glasgow. You usually love or hate him. He can get himself into hot water with his touchline antics and with his post match interviews but he has mellowed since Rangers departed from the top league. He will certainly bring passion and a winning mentality. I suppose potential employers will wonder if he can cut it away from Scotland were it was a one horse race. But his ability to turn squads around and his European record will be seen as an advantage. The fact he is a free agent will also see clubs engage with him more as their will be no competition.

How will Celtic cope?

I think the club will actually enjoy the change. I think things may have become a bit stale for everyone at Celtic. A new coach with new faces can excite the fans again. The new coach will have the advantage of a less than competitive league so he can have plenty of time to instil his footballing beliefs.

Who win that new man be? 

A lot of names are already floating around. Jackie McNamara is doing a fine job at Dundee United and would help develop any good young squads that Celtic already have. Owen Coyle likes to have teams play attractive, attacking football and that would excite fans. I am not sure Paul Lambert has done enough at Aston Villa to suggest he would bring beautiful football to Parkhead. I doubt David Moyes would relish a return to Scottish football at the moment, I’d imagine he has unfinished business down south. Another former player Malky Mackay is available but has been linked heavily with Norwich.

Henrik Larsson has been heavily tipped in the last twenty-four hours. Obviously a huge fan favourite but has he enough experience in coaching for this job? Not at the moment in my humble opinion.

Whatever happens next for Neil Lennon, I hope he does well. I am not a Hoops fan and as a player I wasn’t a supporter of Lennon’s style. But I have met him a few times and he was always polite and took time to speak to his family,friends and fans after games. I am sure he would have loved to win the treble at Parkhead but alas it wasn’t meant to be.

He has left his beloved team on top and flying high, not many managers can say that. Can he recreate that success elsewhere? Only time will tell but at least he has the courage to try and not rest on his laurels.

One Response to “Lennon Leaves Celtic In Paradise”

  1. I suspect that though it will never be said openly, Neil has become disillusioned with the ongoing corruption in the Scottish game which has taken a once proud nation to the brink of extinction. Neil leaves after unprecedented success as a player and manager with the biggest club Scotland ever had or is likely to have. He tormeted and terrorized oldco rangers into non-existence. He became the best manager in Scotland since the legend himself, Jock Stein, winning everything there was to win, and against all odds. Against corrupt backgrounds and continued bigotry and an ongoing hate campaign from SFA and unintelligent and infantile fans of the extinct club. Neil Lennon, he came, he saw and he conquered all before him and walks away a very proud achiever. Hail Hail Neil. Forever in the history books.

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