NEIL Lennon has admitted that managing Celtic in the English Premier League would be the “ideal scenario” as reports continue to link him with a move south of the border.
The Celtic manager has most recently been reported to be interesting Norwich City, whose manager Chris Hughton has been operating under pressure for several months. The scope of Lennon’s ambitions has become a burning topic again as he stands on the brink of a third consecutive title win.
The question of where Celtic might play in the future has also been reignited by comments made by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who said the Scottish club would bring “something special” to the English league.
Asked yesterday whether the prospect of managing Celtic south of the border would be the perfect way to ease the dilemma of whether he must leave Scotland in order to test himself further as a manager, Lennon said: “Yes. Do I think it will happen? I hope. That’s not being disrespectful to the Scottish game, I’d just like to see it happen.”
Lennon was also questioned about whether it would matter to him if Rangers joined Celtic. “Not at all,” he replied, before adding impishly: “I’m not that selfish.” In a pre-recorded interview with Soccer AM due to be shown on Sky this morning, the manager had already described moving to England with Celtic as the “ideal scenario”. However, he also conceded he didn’t know “whether this would ever come up”.
Lennon did consider Mourinho’s opinions on the subject to have been a helpful contribution to a debate that routinely surfaces. “Our reputation has been enhanced in the past couple of years and people are talking about the football club in a good light again on the European scene,” said Lennon. “That augurs well. Mourinho has happy memories of our meetings. Obviously there was the Uefa Cup final [against Mourinho’s Porto] when he saw what the club could bring to a European environment.
“If that was to be the case in England, I’m sure they would bring the same thing,” he added.
Lennon admitted that speculation about his future “can be a distraction” and he underlined again how difficult it would be to leave Celtic. But he also suggested that winning leaguesby a long distance is not as satisfying as it might once have been. “It will take a lot for me to leave the job here. It’s a huge club. But we all have ambitions to go on. How many titles can you win? Is it six, seven, eight, nine, ten?” he asked.
“People are talking as if I can just walk out of Celtic and get a job in England. It doesn’t work that way. I think it’s become increasingly difficult with new owners coming from elsewhere who have their own ideas on the game and other people.”