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Rangers and Neil Lennon put Celtic boss Ronny Deila on the spot

Former boss says Celts chief has lost the fans... and, after Old Firm defeat, his job will be next

By Jim Gracey

Neil Lennon refused to put himself in the frame for a return to his old job as Celtic manager with his successor, Ronny Deila, admitting he faces an uncertain future after yesterday's Scottish Cup semi-final shootout defeat by rejuvenated rivals Rangers.

Lurgan man Lennon declined to comment directly on Deila's fate, deeming it disrespectful, in the aftermath of what could be a defining result for both clubs - energising newly promoted Rangers, 5-4 winners on penalties after 120 minutes' dramatic action ended 2-2, and sparking recriminations at Celtic.

He was, however, drawn into the debate on Delia's future and delivered a damning verdict to the effect that the current Celtic manager had lost the support of the club's fans.

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"He has a long way to go to win back the fans," observed Lennon, who stepped down at the end of the 2014 season to be succeeded by Norwegian Deila who, despite a title win in his first season, has never been universally accepted by the Parkhead fans.

Lennon, who later joined and was then sacked by Bolton Wanderers, would be a popular replacement with the supporters and is among the bookies' favourites to be re-appointed with Deila now expected to exit sooner rather than later.

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill has also been linked with the post but an approach for him would come with a six-figure compensation price tag under the terms of his newly signed four-year deal with the Irish Football Association.

Lennon, working as a SKY TV sports pundit, sidestepped the question of his possible return, saying: "No-one wants to see anyone lose their job and I won't comment while there's still a manager in charge. It's disrespectful as I know from having in that situation very recently at Bolton.

"Ronny still has a title to win and I imagine he and the club will want to get on with that and then talk about what happens next in the summer."

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