Johan Mjallby reckons Neil Lennon has big rivals for Celtic job

Johan Mjallby thinks Neil Lennon will need to win the treble to have a chance of landing the Celtic manager's job on a permanent basis. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
Johan Mjallby thinks Neil Lennon will need to win the treble to have a chance of landing the Celtic manager's job on a permanent basis. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
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The most serious threat to Neil Lennon’s hopes of becoming Celtic manager on a permanent basis is the job’s heightened profile, according to Johan Mjallby.

Mjallby, who was assistant to Lennon during his first spell in charge at Parkhead, believes the post has become more attractive to internationally-renowned coaches following Brendan Rodgers’ success.

Roberto Martinez, Andre Villas-Boas and Rafael Benitez have all enjoyed short-priced favouritism with bookmakers recently and Mjallby is not surprised.

Rodgers added lustre to the role and, perhaps more importantly, used it as a springboard to return to the English Premier League where he is now pushing Leicester City up the table.

While the Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen on Sunday is considered potentially make-or-break for Lennon’s prospects, his former team-mate believes guiding Celtic to a third domestic treble is imperative simply for him to have a “chance” of staying in charge.

Asked if he thought the likes of Martinez, Villas-Boas or Benitez could be lured to Celtic, Mjallby said: “Why not? You can’t talk Celtic down. Obviously, Rangers have had difficult years but the pair of

them are massive clubs and either one of them should win the league

every year.

“But even if you have been the manager of big clubs in other major leagues, the pressure you have as a Celtic manager is enormous. Martinez has never won a league title, for example. Villas-Boas and Benitez have done but, at Parkhead, you have the chance to win trophies every year. The ambition should also be to make Celtic great in Europe again.

“It was good for Celtic

that Neil [pictured] was available [when Brendan left] – he’d worked with a lot of the players in the squad and he’s very passionate about the club so it was a win-win for everybody. He was out of a job at the time and everyone knows how much Celtic means to him. It will be interesting to see what happens.

“That’s down to the board, though, and Neil understands they’ll be contemplating other names as well. I think Neil knows he will have to win the treble to really have a chance to get the job.

“If he does that then he would, rightly so, be disappointed if he doesn’t get it. But it depends on how they look at the club going forward long term.

“What budget do they want to spend for a big name? With Roberto Martinez, Andre Villas-Boas and Rafa Benitez being mentioned, although Neil has had plenty of experience as a boss, they will be much more expensive than him.

“Obviously, it will always be important for Celtic to win domestic trophies – and the league is always the bread and butter – but then you have to look at Europe. That was the only area where Brendan didn’t succeed that much – so would the board find a foreign manager more attractive when it comes to making Celtic a force in Europe?”