Neil Lennon has admitted that not much has changed for him after he finally signed a new contract with Celtic on Friday morning.
He has pledged himself to the club for the same money as he was already on, while the new deal is a continuation of the one-year rolling contracts he has signed since become permanent Celtic manager in the summer of 2010.
Despite one report that claimed he was set to sign a “bumper” new deal, the Celtic manager revealed that he had signed another one-year rolling contract on the same financial terms as when he last put pen to paper, in October. Asked what had changed to his last contract, Lennon replied: “Nothing.”
However, he then elaborated further, and admitted that he had pushed for “tweaks” to be made. “That’s a private matter,” he said. “But there were things I wanted to change from a couple of years ago and they’ve agreed to do that.”
Lennon was linked with a move to Everton during the summer after David Moyes left the Goodison Park club for Manchester United. “I heard nothing [from them],” he said yesterday, when asked about the speculation. He has also been linked in the past with Norwich City.
“There’s no [extra] remuneration,” he explained. “It’s not, unfortunately, a bumper deal that I’ve signed. It’s the same contract. There were just some legal stipulations that I wanted tweaked a little bit. I signed it on Friday morning so I’m happy to proceed. It’s still a rolling deal.” He stressed that he wants to concentrate on the job in hand with Celtic, which continues today against league leaders Inverness Caldedonian Thistle. However, it is understood that the changes to his contract could make it easier for a club to prise him away from Celtic, should one desire to do so. Lennon himself would also need to want to leave a club and supporters to whom, he says, he still feels so indebted.
“I’m well paid,” he added. “The club have looked after me very well from the day I walked in as a player. I’ve got a good contract and good backing.
“I’ll always feel that way while I’m in that job that I owe people something, whether it’s the people who employ me, the supporters or the players I bring in.
“I’ll always feel I’ve got a responsibility to someone. I won’t ever feel that I’ve done it all and I don’t need to give anything back. I always want to give. So that’s why the last few days have been difficult. That was hard to take and I want nothing more than to succeed.”
With his mention of recent “difficulties”, Lennon was referring to Tuesday night’s deeply disappointing 2-0 defeat by
Shakhter Karagandy in the first leg of their Champions League play-off tie. The manager noted the backlash. He pointed out that it proves that he is only ever “one game away from a crisis”.
“Fear of the sack is the thing that motivates me more than anything else,” he added. “The priority for me is the football side of things [and not money].
“I have a huge challenge now – can I take this team into the Champions League without three of the more important players from years gone by? That is a huge challenge in itself.”
He denied that he was anxious because he has not been able to re-strengthen his squad in a significant manner following the departures of Kelvin Wilson, Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper. However, he admits that the thought of failing to overturn a two-goal deficit next week makes him nervous. “The fear of not qualifying for the Champions League has given me a lot of thought, since April really,” he said.