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Neil Lennon's the Bhoy to bring thunder back to Celtic and take on resurgent Rangers

By Steven Beacom

Published 21/04/2016

Familiar face: former Celtic boss Neil Lennon could return to the Hoops
Familiar face: former Celtic boss Neil Lennon could return to the Hoops

Neil Lennon didn't hang about. Ronny Deila's departure as Celtic's manager at the end of the season had just been announced and the Lurgan native was on television saying he would fancy the soon-to-be vacant manager's job at Parkhead.

Some have suggested he was a little too quick to express an interest, given Deila's exit had been confirmed just minutes before, but attending a charity golf day for former team-mate John Hartson, the subject was always going to crop up once he was in front of the cameras and, true to form, Lennon's answers to the Celtic questions were honest and open.

The former Northern Ireland midfielder has never been one to avoid the issue. That's one of the reasons why his opinions are so sought after by TV companies.

At times his straight-talking has landed him in trouble. On this occasion his words sent a clear message to the Celtic board. If you want me, give me a call.

It was Deila of course who replaced Lennon at the Parkhead helm in 2014.

Lennon had been a success at Celtic as a player and when he returned as manager repeated the feat with domestic glory and some magical European nights, not least when the Hoops famously defeated a mighty Barcelona side, including Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi, 2-1 at home in the Champions League.

Knowing how to inject excitement into the Celtic supporters, when he was appointed full-time boss at the Glasgow club in 2010, he promised to bring the thunder back. Bhoy, did he!

Under Deila at the very most there's only ever been a light breeze. At Celtic and Rangers, the fans love stormy seas. Calm doesn't quite cut it and in many ways that's why Lennon left a couple of years ago. He needed a break from the madness and the Glasgow goldfish bowl.

Lennon loved delivering silverware and the celebrations that brought, but it wasn't always paradise. Just about every week there was controversy involving Lennon and while he will admit a little of that may have been his own making, he did not deserve the dark, dangerous days he encountered as Celtic boss.

There were death threats, bullets sent in the post, never-ending abuse and even one clown running from the stands to attack him as he patrolled his technical area during a game against Hearts at Tynecastle.

Why then, you ask, does he want to go back? Bottom line, he's missed it. He's Celtic through and through and the passion he feels for the club and fans outweighs all the poison. He's also out of work after a nightmare spell at Bolton, where financial problems didn't help, and is determined to prove himself again.

His first aim would be to take Celtic back into the Champions League group stages. You can guarantee he would make a better fist of that than Deila who failed miserably. On European nights, even in qualifying, Lennon would bring the thunder back to Parkhead.

And now there's the challenge of a resurgent Rangers returning to the top flight and going head to head with the Hoops in the Scottish Premier League again. That appeals to the former Leicester ace.

Lennon is not the only Ulsterman the Celtic hierarchy have on their radar with Michael O'Neill, Martin O'Neill and Brendan Rodgers also in the boardroom conversation. I believe all could succeed at the club, but get the feeling the 44-year-old Lurgan man wants it most.

Celtic should give him a ring. Right now he may be just the man the club and the dispirited fans need.

Belfast Telegraph

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