The signals from the board all point to Lennon for gaffer

May 23, 2010

So here we are, over a week since the end of the new season and us supporters are still in the dark as to what direction the Celtic board are going in. Under normal circumstances I’m happy for the board to take their time over an appointment, but let’s be honest here, the board have had months to investigate for the new man.

I know that managerial appointments are often quite secretive, yet the silence from Lawwell and the rest of the board has been deafening. Indeed, we’ve heard more about possible players than a new manager. However, that is a signal in itself.

This time last year we all knew about the possibilities. The board were quite openly searching for new managers, and official approaches had been made to both Burnley and to Swansea for Owen Coyle and Roberto Martinez respectively. This time all we’ve heard is Jimmy Bullard and Sol Campbell are lined up to sign, whilst the managerial tumble weed goes flying by.

Not only is this frustrating for us as fans, it must be frustrating for ‘Lenny’ too. Maybe I’ve been wandering around with my eyes closed, but the only other manager I can think of who actively wants the job is Manolo Jimenez, the ex Sevilla coach. However, it certainly does seem that Lennon is odds on for the hotseat. Indeed, with the news that the club will be having trips around the country to ‘meet the fans’ starting next week, it would be ridiculous for a new manager not to be involved.

So I’m pretty sure I can say with 99.99% confidence that Neil Lennon has got the job. The next question is how do I feel about it?

Well, if I’m honest, disappointed. After the failure of Mowbray (a young, relatively unproven British manager) I’d hoped the club would show some genuine ambition. Indeed, the type of ambition that would get the fans back through the gate, and attract a little quality on the field. Ottmar Hitzfeld would have been decent, and Ronald Koeman is also available. (According to a couple of newspapers, the club even made a tentative approach to Martin O’Neill!) I can also say that I think our European ambitions are now minimal too, and the board’s attitude of being happy with being just better than Rangers is all over this appointment. However, there are certain benefits to Lennon getting the job.

We all saw a marked improvement on the pitch after he took over from ‘Mogga’ (with the exception of the Semi Final, but I’m not going there) and it did appear the side had more spirit. Indeed, Lennon did exactly the right thing by publicly caning the side after the Hampden horror show, and the players responded the right way. It was pleasing to see us at least put a few wins together despite them being relatively meaningless.

But the biggest benefit is he already knows the squad. Lennon will know which players are up to the job, and which ones need moving along, whereas a new man might need a couple of months to get to know the players. The result of that could be another Tony Mowbray-style summer, with only a few signings and a manic January window. Trying to settle several players in over January is not advised as we all know, so Lennon’s appointment will hopefully avoid that.

Plus Lennon has also told the board exactly who he wants to sign, and once the appointment has been confirmed we can go about ripping the squad to pieces, and filling it with a little quality. I’m expecting his appointment to be popular with the majority of our supporters, and of course he’ll get a vociferous backing. He has the winning mentality, and he knows exactly what it takes to win the Championship.

Indeed, one of the best managers in Europe right now was given a massive club as his first job after working in the youth and reserve teams. He won four trophies in his first season, and has just sealed another. Yes, if Lennon turns into another Pep Guardiola I think I’ll take that!

Wonder if we can swap Paddy McCourt for Messi?

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