‘We’ve ambled at times all season’ - Celtic ‘weren’t great’ before Neil Lennon came in, claims John Hartson

According to John Hartson, Neil Lennon is being unfairly held to standards in his audition for the Celtic job that were not being met before he stepped in to fill the breach created by Brendan Rodgers’ February move to Leicester.

John Hartson says Neil Lennon has done what has been asked of him at Celtic. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

The former Celtic striker considers that all his former team-mate can do is ensure there is no slippage in the trophy-claiming that Rodgers patented. By doing so, he could shift the situation from himself being in a difficult position to the club being in a tricky spot if they didn’t consider elevating Lennon from interim to permanent boss.

“Neil is unbeaten as a manager since he came back,” said the Welshman of the ten-game run that leaves Celtic needing only a point away to Aberdeen on Saturday to clinch the title.

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“There’s a feeling the football hasn’t been the best as he’s drawn games and has needed a couple of last-minute winners. But I don’t think the football has been scintillating all season.

“In the first half of it, we lost four games. I believe we hadn’t lost that many in the two previous seasons. So I don’t think there is a blame game here that you can put on to Neil. You can’t say the football isn’t great and it’s him because the football wasn’t great even when the previous manager was there.

“People will question it now. ‘We were poor here, or poor there’. But we’ve ambled at times all season. All he can do is bring it all home in terms of the treble, with a difficult Scottish Cup final against Hearts to get the treble treble.

“Then he can go: ‘Don’t give this job to me at your peril. I’ve done everything asked of me’.

Hartson added: “I know the supporters are divided. The feeling I get is the fans love Neil, he’s a legend, he started this off, he’s one of our own, but, I’m not too sure if I want him to be the one to take us on.

“There are names on their lips, some of the big managers. But I’d say, from Lenny’s point of view, just go and do the business.”

Hartson believes the fact the uncertainty could continue for the next month could disrupt Celtic’s preparations for next season, irrespective of who takes charge.

“The team needs a bit of help. It needs some signings.There are six players to go back from their respective loan deals and they’ll need to be replaced. The Champions League qualifiers start in July, the Scottish Cup final is 25 May, the boys only get four weeks off which is not much of a break and the international players will get far less.

“So there is a lot to do. Will it need big investment? I think so, yes. I’d like to see investment coming in. But whoever is going to decide who leaves and who comes in, I think it needs to be done fairly soon.

“I’d love an announcement fairly soon because there is so much work to be done.”