What next for Neil Lennon after Celtic exit?

It wasn’t a question of if, it was a question of when. Neil Lennon’s departure from Celtic has been on the cards for some time.
Neil Lennon won't be short of offers in the media.Neil Lennon won't be short of offers in the media.
Neil Lennon won't be short of offers in the media.

It’s hard to recover from any kind of supporter mutiny and the unsavoury scenes that we witnessed in November and December outside Celtic Park, when fans gathered to call for his head, signalled the end of his second tenure at Parkhead.

The last fanbase revolt we witnessed in the Scottish game was when Craig Levein was hounded out of Hearts. He, too, tried to ride the storm. It didn’t end well.

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Lennon might have lasted until the end of the season had Celtic not put an antler in their recovery balloon with a damaging loss away at bottom-club Ross County. The second defeat by the Staggies this season was too much for all at Parkhead.

It leaves Lennon, 49, out of the game. The last time this happened was two years ago, when he vacated his role at Hibs. Just a month later, Celtic approached him to hold the baby after Brendan Rodgers’ exit to Leicester. In the main, Lennon did a fine job, winning two titles, two Scottish Cups and a Betfred Cup to add to his previous haul when he was first in charge between 2010 and 2014.

That CV – and don’t forget his fine work at Hibs, less so, perhaps, at Bolton – stands up to scrutiny. He would be a major coup for any other Scottish club outside of Rangers and a fair number of English teams too, even if his spell in Lancashire wasn’t the best.

It seems fanciful to suggest we will see him back in a club job up here any time soon. Hibs was an excellent fit at the time, but his persona doesn’t really match with too many others. Plus, he is a winner, canny at seeing opportunities with clubs and taking them. There aren’t many out there.

A return to management isn’t out of the question, but an open book in terms of his own personal struggles, Lennon is sure to feel raw and sad about how his time at Celtic has ended. He adores the club, of that there is no question, and it will take time for him to recover from the blow of not delivering ten Premiership titles in a row, given that it is the holy grail for the club and its supporters.

When will we next hear from Lennon? Probably on BBC Radio 5Live, or on the television. A mighty fine manager, Lennon is also a mighty fine pundit. Eloquent, informative, witty and not afraid to speak his mind, there will be a queue of outlets keen to have him involved. The European Championships this summer seems a great fit to begin with. He’s kept himself busy in between jobs before with these mediums.

No doubt, wounds will be licked. But one hopes we see Lennon back in the game soon. He can rub many people up the wrong way with his frank attitude, but his success is there in black and white. He would have more to give, perhaps even in a national team role. With Scotland boss Steve Clarke one of the candidates for the Celtic vacancy, stranger things have happened ...

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