One of the four men shortlisted for PFA Scotland Manager of the Year, Hibernian boss Neil Lennon, has warned that they could all have the jobs cut out for them if Steven Gerrard accepts the Rangers job.
The Liverpool legend, below, is the Ibrox club’s preferred option to take over in the summer and while the development coach has no first-team managerial experience, Lennon says there is no questioning his footballing pedigree.
“First of all, I don’t know if he’s going to get the job and second, I don’t know if any of us know how good Steve will be,” said Lennon. “If it’s anything to go by his football career, then we’ve got absolutely no chance – the rest of us! It’s an interesting one. I’m surprised because I thought Rangers would have gone for an experienced manager. When you appoint someone or buy someone there is an element of risk there and he’ll have to really think long and hard about this opportunity because it’s not easy.”
Lennon made his own managerial debut in the testing Old Firm environment and while his experience as a player and coach at Celtic Park gave him a greater insight into managing in the Glasgow goldfish bowl, he says even that did not fully prepare him. “Looking back at Celtic and the undertaking I took on then, it’s scary really. You feel you can take on the world at that stage, you come out of your coaching badges and, I had a year with Gordon [Strachan] and a year with the development team, and had seven, eight years playing there as well, so I was ingrained at the club and there was a familiarity. That made it a lot easier although it’s a huge job to take on.
“Steve doesn’t have that advantage if you want to call it that so it’s laced with risk. But we’re all speaking hypothetically here.”
Lennon, who is still working with his Hibs squad to ensure that Rangers finish this term third-placed, at best, and will look to crank up the pressure by bagging another three points against Kilmarnock today, is a massive admirer of Gerrard, who he played against in Celtic’s run to Seville.
“He’s one of my heroes as a player. He’s very inspirational. I know him personally, I’ve met him on many occasions and he’s lovely. That influence he had, he’s one of the best players to have played the game in the last 20, 30 years – certainly in the Premier League and Europe as well.”
But Lennon hasn’t spoken to Gerrard about coming to Scotland and says he may not be the best man to advise him.
“The person he should speak to is [failed former Celtic boss] John Barnes, who he would know well from his time at Liverpool. He might put him off, but there’s a realism there as well that it’s not always going to be a bed of roses. It’s a very difficult environment to survive in and prosper. We’ve seen some great players and managers not last very long in what can be a hostile environment.”