New contract at Hibs a ‘no-brainer’ for Neil Lennon

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon says the players and directors at Easter Road have made his job easier. Picture: SNS.
Hibs head coach Neil Lennon says the players and directors at Easter Road have made his job easier. Picture: SNS.
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Hibs manager Neil Lennon has admitted that agreeing a new contract was “a no-brainer” because he is loving life with the Easter Road club.

Lennon’s existing deal was due to run out at the end of the season but he is on the verge of extending it, revealing talks were already underway as he guided the capital outfit to the Championship title and back into the top flight in his first year in charge.

Those discussions, however, were put on hold as the club concentrated on strengthening the playing squad with nine signings made over the summer, negotiations “revving up” in the past couple of weeks to the point Lennon expects the deal to be announced in the next 24 to 48 hours.

As much as he feels genuine progress has been made, Lennon pointed to last weekend’s surprise defeat at home by 
Hamilton as proof there is still plenty for him to do.

Although the length of the new contract is yet to be disclosed, he said: “From a personal point of view, it’s a no-brainer. I am very happy here, I am really enjoying what I am doing. I think I have a good group of players and I work with some very good people above me.

“They have made this job, which is never easy, easier. The support I have had from the fans has been fantastic. Sometimes it is all about job satisfaction and I am very happy here.

“I enjoy the structure, the training ground and stadium are excellent. But, in the main, I have a very good group of players. The board and Leeann [Dempster, chief executive] and George [Craig, head of football operations] are 
fantastic to work with as well.”

While Hibs pulled off a major coup in appointing Lennon to succeed Scottish Cup-winning boss Alan Stubbs, there was little doubt it was also an important decision for the coach himself after his move south to Bolton Wanderers turned sour following a highly-successful time as both player and manager at Celtic.

He said: “There were huge mitigating circumstances with that. My hands were tied but people don’t see it that way – they just look at results. They aren’t really interested in the other side of it.

“But that was a good learning experience for me as well. Thankfully, I never foresaw any of those problems here – the club is healthy. I came in at a good time off the back of winning the cup that meant a lot to a lot of people at the club and the supporters who had waited a lifetime for that to happen.

“It was important to carry that on, and then there was the challenge of trying to get the club back up. I enjoyed that immensely as well.

“Talks really revved up the last couple of weeks. There were initial talks at the end of the season and we decided to leave it. We wanted to get business done with the squad first.

“But, to be fair to Leeann and the board, they always maintained they would come back to me and it has really progressed over the last week or so, which I am delighted about. I’m very happy with what’s on offer as well. I am very proud to be the manager here. It’s a privilege and it’s one I want to maintain for as long as I can.”

l Hibs kept their hopes of reaching the last 32 of the Uefa Women’s Champions League alive despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Ukrainian champions WFC2-Kharkiv.

Having beaten Swansea City 5-0 on Tuesday, Hibs had to rely on a goal by Lucy Graham ten minutes from full-time to salvage a point after Kharkiv took the lead near the end of the first half.

Hibs must now beat Romanian hosts Olimpia Cluj in Monday’s third and final qualifying group game to qualify for the knock-out stages.

“In the first half we struggled to look after the football the way we usually do,” said head coach Chris Roberts. “We made changes and controlled the ball a lot better in the second half and created a lot of chances.”

Abi Harrison was treated for heat exhaustion near the end, but Roberts later said she had made a full recovery.