The resignation of Neil Lennon as Celtic manager comes at an interesting time for Scottish football, where next season’s Premier League race will likely be the dullest in its history. Sources close to the club suggest that the former club captain has been considering his position for some while now and has decided that he has done all that can be done for the club, taking them as far as he could both domestically and in Europe. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was a disagreement over the clubs likely summer investment strategy which failed to meet Lennon’s lofty ambitions. The club believes it will stroll to its fourth title next season with ease given that Rangers are still out of the picture and Hearts having dropped into the Championship. This means that the only clubs capable of challenging Celtic’s potential fourth title would be either Motherwell or Aberdeen, neither of which will be investing heavily when the transfer window reopens. Lennon wanted funds to be made available to allow him to attack the Champions League but the clubs realistic view is that it’s a tournament that Celtic cannot win given the teams contesting it. With the threat of losing Fraser Forster and Virgil van Dijk a real possibility, Lennon has cut his ties with the club and is looking for his next opportunity.
The former Northern Irish international midfielder has been vocal about his ambitions to manage in the Premiership for some time now and England is his likely destination although no offers have been made just yet. Norwich look strong favourites to offer him their vacant manager’s position, with a sizable budget and a challenge to get them back into the Premiership after being relegated this season. But Lennon may hold out for West Bromwich Albion and an immediate shot at England’s top division, now that they too are on the hunt for a new manager having dismissed Spanish flop Pepe Mel. Leaving Celtic removes the need for any club to seek approval to approach Lennon; something that Celtic has been reluctant to do so in the past. Under Lennon, Celtic won three back to back titles as well two Scottish cups and several good showings in Europe but many point to Rangers relegation to the lowest division in Scotland in 2011 for falling into administration, as a key reason why Celtic have been so dominant in the Premier League. Life in Scotland has not been easy for Lennon who has endured a tough stay in Glasgow since his appointment as boss in 2010. Never far away from conflict, Lennon has been the subject of various attempts by fans to harm him including having a parcel bomb sent to his house and a Hearts fan jumping from the crowd to attack him during a league match in 2011. In addition living under the intense microscope of the Scottish media has taken its toll on Lennon who has spoken in the past about his fight against depression that has stretched back over a decade back to his playing days. His fiery nature and out spoken comments about rival teams and managers do little to help him in his pursuit for an easier life with the media ready to jump on every word and exploit it for their benefit. His resignation from Celtic will remove him from this cauldron and will breathe life back into a manager who has become more and more reclusive each year.
The job of replacing Lennon will fall to Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell with several names already being touted as potential candidates. Former players Jackie McNamara, Morten Weighorst and Malky MacKay are all in the running as is long shots David Moyes and Steve Clarke. The fans will be hoping that Lawwell also considers Celtic icon Henrik Larsson who has been cutting his managerial teeth in his native Sweden with Falkenbergs. Lawwell needs to act quickly with the Champions League qualifying rounds set for early July but he will not be rushed into making a decision. Lawwell will need to decide on whether he appoints an established, more expensive manager for immediate results or whether he turns to an up and coming coach who can babysit the job next year and build a team for the 2015/2016 season, preparing for the possible return of rivals Rangers.
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