With Celtic’s eighth title in succession just about in the bag, and a third consecutive Scottish Cup win still in sight, Celtic are on course for a treble treble. Is there any manager in the world that could expect to be sacked with that kind of level of success?
Well, with Celtic the rules seem to be a little bit different. The fans expect exciting, attacking football. Lennon hasn’t necessarily delivered this through all the success he has had since taking the role an interim basis in February.
What are the views of the fans, pundits and bookmakers? The opinions appear evenly balanced.
Lennon is seen as the current favourite to be offered the job with enhanced odds at 8/11. However, closely following him is the current Belgium manager, Roberto Martinez at 5/4 and Rafa Benitez at 5/1. The ex-Chelsea Manager, Andre Villas Boas, follows closely behind at 7/1 and further down the list of potential managers is the Northern Ireland Manager, Michael O’Neill at a decent 16/1 and Steve Clarke at 25/1.
Let’s take a look at the current occupant though and the pros and cons of offering Lennon the job for a second stint.
Yes, Lennon should be a permanent manager
Neil Lennon has had excellent results since taking over. There’s not a lot more that he could have done to push his case. The truth is it is almost impossible to replace the skill set that Brendan Rodgers brought to the table. That’s why he was so highly coveted and ended up at a good Premier league club. The kind of attractive, technical football Rodgers’ teams tend to play is hard to find.
A football team tends to reflect the manager. Neil Lennon is passionate, hard-working, energetic and driven. He’s not going to have teams that are patient, knitting together long periods of possession football. His football isn’t dull though. There is certainly plenty of dynamism there.
In fact, these characteristics are why bookmakers give enhanced odds on certain matches. His personality and team may end up better suited to tough away games in Europe, where a battling spirit is the only way to get results against more technically gifted teams. Some European success would be a massive plus, and Lennon may be able to deliver results to get to the latter stages of tournaments; even get results over two legs against teams who big favourites over them.
No, Lennon shouldn’t get the job
Whilst it’s true that Celtic have done well, the foundations were laid by Rodgers. Lennon cannot take things forward and have a positive impact. The odds of Celtic winning the title and cup in Scotland are never long. They are the best team, with the Rangers still recovering from a long period of struggle since their new club launched in 2012.
Celtic need to find a Brendan Rodgers’esque character to continue the flowing football the fans deserve. To fly the Scottish flag in Europe, Celtic need to be able to attack the big boys with great football. Only then will the fans feel the pride they know their team can give them.
Yes, the right manager will not be easy to find. But Celtic should not have to settle for a manager that is the wrong fit for the style of play the club and fans crave.
It’s certainly an interesting debate. Southampton, a team who have done plenty of business with Celtic over recent years, took on Puel after the heady days of Koeman and Pochettino.
They sacked him largely because of his style of play, having reached a Cup Final and finished top 8 in the Premiership. They have struggled for a couple of years and been in the relegation more most of that time. Only now do they seem to have found the right man in Hasenhuttl.
A period of transition is evitable at Celtic, with the team along with Rangers playing a big part in the growing popularity of the Scottish league with fans and punters alike.
Not opting for Lennon could be a risk, but it would be a risk worth taking if they get the right man. The problem is, no one knows how big an IF it is.
The Celtic Star view? It you want a bet, stick your money on Lenny getting the job.
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