'Toxic' - Neil Lennon gives blunt assessment of last season in charge of Celtic as he begins new role in Cyprus

Neil Lennon is back in management with Omonia Nicosia.Neil Lennon is back in management with Omonia Nicosia.
Neil Lennon is back in management with Omonia Nicosia.
Neil Lennon has labelled his final season in charge of Celtic as “toxic” – but says that will stand him in good stead for his new job as manager of Omonia Nicosia.

The former Celtic, Bolton Wanderers and Hibs boss has moved to Cyprus to manage one of the biggest clubs in the country, who are currently underperforming as reigning First Division champions.

Lennon’s tenure began with a 2-2 draw against Doxa over the weekend and while Omonia are still fighting to win the cup, their league campaign is all but over, miles behind Apollon, APOEL and AEK Larnaca as they languish in sixth spot.

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Wealthy owner Stavros Papastavrou dispensed of Henning Berg as manager due to the poor run of form and has turned to Lennon to revive Omonia’s fortunes, with trusted lieutenant Garry Parker also joining the Northern Irishman on the Mediterranean island.

Lennon said: “I know I’ve been out of management for over a year but it’s not like I’m a novice — I’ve got over 500 games under my belt now.

“I’d prepared for the game [against Doxa] as well as I could in the few days I’d been in Nicosia since flying in and that gave me peace of mind.

"I picked a relative reserve team because of the importance of Wednesday night’s cup game.

“It’s going to take a bit of time and hard work on the training ground to get the players playing to the style I want. But I’m impressed with the quality of the squad.

“I want to do well here and I want the players to know we’re on their side.

“I’m passionate about this job. You can’t change the way you are. My voice has gone a bit after Saturday!

“Wednesday’s game will have a lot more on it but I’m excited about it. I’m well used to pressure games at Celtic, Hibs and Bolton.

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“Garry Parker being here with me now just adds to the comfort I’ve got, while I’ve also inherited a first-team coach who is great.

“I’d forgotten how good it is to be on the training ground with the players. It’s fantastic.

“The year out has done me the world of good.”

Continuing in an interview with the Scottish Sun, Lennon added: “Omonia have given me the chance to do my own thing again and it’s a club that wants to be successful.

“They are defending champions. They’re not going to win it this year, but there’s still a nucleus of a very good squad.

“I know it’s an environment where there’s been a lot of managerial changes, but most leagues everywhere else are.

“How many changes have there been in Scotland this year? Look at England.

“The job’s far more under the microscope than it’s ever been. But that’s the life. There’s a certain amount of pressure with any job that you take.

“Look, I have been Celtic manager twice. My last season was toxic and highly pressured, so I feel I can pretty much cope with most situations.

"I’ve never shirked a challenge in my life.”

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