Neil Lennon admits uncertainty over Celtic future

Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Picture: PACeltic manager Neil Lennon. Picture: PA
Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Picture: PA
NEIL Lennon has admitted he has given consideration to whether he has taken Celtic as far as he can.

The 42-year-old has conceded he has been required to do “a bit of soul searching” in the aftermath of last week’s Scottish Cup defeat at home to Aberdeen.

Lennon is only weeks short of his fourth anniversary in charge of Celtic and is the second longest serving manager in the Scottish game behind Forfar Athletic’s Dick Campbell.

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Speaking ahead of Celtic’s home match against St Johnstone on Sunday afternoon, Lennon was asked whether it had got to the point where he asks himself “how much further can I take this team?”

His answer was revealing. “Well... yes,” he said with a pause. He later admitted that he couldn’t say if he had reached the end of his shelf life in the Celtic post. “I think you know instinctively when there is a cut-off point. Whether mine is here yet or not I do not know,” he said.

The issue has been raised by some Celtic followers after the quarter-final exit to Aberdeen which means he has claimed only two cup triumphs from nine competitions during a period where the club have been dominant in the top flight, with a third consecutive title set to be claimed in the next couple of months.

“There has been a bit of soul-searching but it is not a national disaster,” Lennon said. “I have got to put some sort of perspective on it. We have lost the game, lost the competition which we won last year, but the priorities are the league and the Champions League. Has this season been disappointing? No. Has it been as good as last year? No.

“The only disappointment is the Scottish Cup, we’ve made the Champions League and we are unbeaten in the League. That gets overlooked, people take it for granted, but I think it is a really good achievement so far.

“The incentive now is to go unbeaten for the rest of the season and try to set that in stone. But, if we lose a game between now and then, it is not the end of the world either. Because we set our standards so high. The flipside is that people say it is only Scotland, there is no competition, blah blah blah, that is really unfair on the players. Last week shows you that on any given day you can get beaten, so the consistency the players have shown since we kicked off on August has been tremendous.”

Lennon, though, is not looking to the end point of his tenure at the club, not least because he would be casting himself into the ranks of the unemployed.

“[Leaving] is not high on my agenda at the minute,” he said. “This is a great job and there’s a lot of other managers out of work.

“Once you are out of a job it’s very difficult to get back in. You can be forgotten about very quickly in the game. That’s important to remember as well.”