TERRY Butcher understands the lure of the English Premier League but he doesn’t believe Neil Lennon will be in any rush to head south.
He says that, despite the formality of Celtic winning the league title for the third year in succession, his Parkhead counterpart – who was linked with Norwich City last week – still has enough challenges to keep him focused on the Scottish game.
“For Celtic to go unbeaten in a season is a target and to do well in the Champions League and win a domestic treble is a big thing, so Celtic will have high aspirations, and rightly so,” the Hibs manager said. “Not until you have done the majority of those [things] or achieved what you want to achieve would you ever think about moving on.
“But you are not always in charge of your future in terms of timing and sometimes a situation comes along, so that may well be the case with Neil.”
Butcher and Lennon will face up to each other at Easter Road this afternoon as the Glasgow side seeks to extend their unbeaten run in the Premiership and Butcher admits he is an admirer of what Lennon has already achieved as a young manager, saying he has earned a shot in England. Butcher says there will be a time when clubs from down south come knocking but he doesn’t believe there is any rush to accept just any approach.
“There is unfinished business and there’s still a lot he can do there and still a lot he wants to do.
“You always have a hankering to manage in the top flight so I still think he would love to move down south and test himself in the Premier League but it’s about opportunities and timing and availability too. He is doing a bloody good job at the moment and he has had to move out real quality players and replace that with more quality and continue the work he is doing under the spotlight. I am under a bigger spotlight here than I was at Caley Thistle but it goes up about another ten notches when it comes to being manager at one of the Old Firm. It is a great grounding and great experience for him and a prequel to what he could do down south.”
Butcher, pictured, says one advantage of any switch would be the easing of the intense scrutiny.
“When I left Rangers as a player it was like you were taking a big cloak of pressure off and putting it to one side and I was like ‘wow, there is life after the Old Firm’. So I can see that point of view completely but isn’t it a contradiction to say ‘move down’ to the Premier League in England? Clubs like that [Southampton, Norwich etc] are in the Premier League and are they smaller clubs than Celtic?
“Possibly so, in terms of size but then they are in the Premier League so there’s a contrast there. Celtic is a huge institution, an unbelievably big club, a worldwide club, but to go to something smaller but in the Premier League, he might still welcome that.
“Neil’s hope as a manager is that he moves to a good, big club in the Premier League. I like Neil a lot, him and me get on really well so I hope that does happen for him. It’s what you work for, you work to be better.”