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Lennon’s European dreams will keep him at Celtic

Neil Lennon: Champions League ambition. Picture: SNS

Neil Lennon: Champions League ambition. Picture: SNS

  • by PHIL GORDON
 

NEIL Lennon sent out a clear message yesterday that his future will remain firmly at Celtic, dismissing any speculation about him taking the Norwich City job.

The Celtic manager revealed that the “lure of European football” will keep him at the Scottish champions and he is already working intensely on securing new signings to bolster another attempt at the Champions League next season.

Regardless of what division Norwich are playing in next season, although they are now favourites to lose their status in England’s top-flight, Carrow Road would appear to pale into insignificance in comparison to Celtic Park for Lennon, who takes his side to McDiarmid Park tonight for their penultimate Scottish Premiership match of the campaign, against St Johnstone.

Lennon is reportedly on a four-man short-list, whom the Norwich board want to succeed Chris Hughton once the club’s relegation issue is sorted out. However, the Celtic manager rejected such speculation. “I don’t take much notice of it,” he said. “There’s going to be a bit of to-ing and fro-ing over the next few weeks [with managers in England]. It’s very flattering but I am concentrating on what I’m doing here. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.

“This [Celtic] is a great job. The one thing you are guaranteed here is that you are pretty much going to be successful at some stage of the season. “The lure of European football is something a lot of clubs cannot offer you.”

Lennon has never hidden his desire to manage in England one day, and even touched on it during his meeting with Dermot Desmond, Celtic’s majority shareholder, last week. “Yes, Dermot is aware of my position on it. The one thing we are is pretty open with each other. There is no point in hiding anything. Peter Lawwell is exactly the same, so it’s pretty healthy what we have.

“When I’m asked, I say I am pretty happy where I am. I’m pretty stable. There has been no offer, there has been no concrete phone call or anything like that, so I have not really had a decision to make on it. I am focused on the game here. It’s not the end of the world if I’m still here, far from it.”

Lennon’s conversations with Desmond were focused on his immediate desire to find new signings to bring to Celtic Park this summer. The Celtic manager wants a top-class striker to help his ambition to progress further in the Champions League next season, and would be willing to spend £5 million to sign that player.

That was the sum Celtic received last August from Norwich for Gary Hooper and the club were advised yesterday by their current top scorer, Kris Commons – the PFA Scotland Player of the Year – to buy Hooper back. “It would be nice to have Gary back but I think we’ll be a long way off that I’d imagine,” replied Lennon. “The main priority is centre-forward.”

BT Sport Q&A: Rangers | Hibs | Neil Lennon

THIS week’s BT Sport video Q&A looks at whether Rangers fans will buy season tickets and if the club’s supporters will force a change of ownership.

The form of Hibs under Terry Butcher is also examined following the Easter Road side’s derby defeat while the future of Neil Lennon is also considered following the announcement that his assistant Johan Mjallby is to depart at the end of the season.

Email your Scottish football question for the BT Sport panel to answer. The next show will be recorded on May 7 after St Johnstone v Celtic, which will also be shown live on BT Sport, with the video available on The Scotsman website the following day. You can also tweet us @TheScotsman.

A line-up of experts will handle your questions after each BT Sport game. Most match days, the team includes Darrell Currie, Derek Rae and Gary McAllister.

Over this season, BT Sport will air 30 SPFL matches plus 10 Rangers games from the SPFL League One.

• T&C We can not guarantee which presenters will answer your questions. Questions are vetted and no correspondence will be entered into.

 

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