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Neil Lennon fears chop if Rangers make it four in a row

By Ronnie Esplin

Neil Lennon admits he could lose his job if Celtic fail to win the Clydesdale Bank Premier League this season.

Title or sack is Neil’s deal The pressure is on: Neil Lennon has landed the Scottish Cup, but it is the SPL title that he has his sights on next season. Anything less, and he could be out of a job BY ronnie esplin

The Irishman's first full campaign in charge of the Parkhead club saw him secure the Scottish Cup but lose out in the SPL title race to Old Firm rivals Rangers by one point.

Celtic also lost the Co-operative Insurance Cup final to the Light Blues but Lennon was rewarded by the Parkhead board earlier this week for the progress he made with a new 12-month rolling contract.

However, the former Hoops skipper knows that allowing Rangers to make it four in a row could signal the end of his time in the east end of Glasgow.

“Three years without the title is a long time for us,” the Ulsterman said. “I think it is imperative that we do win it.

“From my own point of view, if you go two years as an Old Firm manager without a title, it might be very difficult to keep your job.

“But it will depend on what the season brings.

“We want to make inroads in Europe this season as well. We feel as if we have good natural talent and a good young team, and with a bit more experience in there we feel we can have a go at that as well.

“I don't think (there will be more pressure). The pressure of the job is always the same: win the league.

“If you can win a double or treble, brilliant but to win the league is a must, really.

“I have had one go at it. The fans might get a bit fed up if we miss out on a second one.

“The expectation levels are going to be greater because of the progress that we made last year and that's a credit to the players.

“They have to accept that challenge and take it on as I have to do as a manager and my background staff do as well.”

Lennon revealed that assistant Johan Mjallby and first-team coach Alan Thompson are still talking to the club about new deals.

“They are in talks at the minute and hopefully that will be resolved by the end of the week or early next week,” said Lennon, who was at Lennoxtown training complex where he helped publicise Celtic's Foundation Summer Holiday Camp.

“It is important for continuity and it is important for me to have people that I brought in, people that I trust and people whose opinion I value, to carry on at the club next to me.”

Lennon is also working hard to get his squad settled for next season.

The former Leicester midfielder is looking to give new deals to skipper Scott Brown and midfielder Beram Kayal and revealed he has made a bid for Newcastle goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who spent a spell on loan at Parkhead last season.

“We will be in talks with both of them,” said Lennon, who will fly out to Australia on Monday with his squad for a pre-season tour.

“We met Beram's representatives three or four weeks ago and we will sit down and discuss a new deal with him probably when we come back from Australia.

“We might not have time to do that before we go away, and it will be the same with Scott.

“They both indicated that they want to go away which is good news from my point of view.”

He added: “We have made a bid for Fraser Forster.

“Newcastle have said that he is not for sale at the moment but we will pursue that avenue further if we can.

“I said that we needed a goalkeeper and we would like to bring in a centre forward as well.”

Meanwhile, Lennon has waded into the row over the GB Olympic team by saying he had no objection to Hoops players such as Niall McGinn or Paddy McCourt taking part.

Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday that he would not stand in any player’s way if he wanted to compete.

Lennon said: “Ultimately it wouldn't be my decision but I wouldn't stand in any player's way. If the players wanted to go and participate in it I wouldn't have a problem with it.

“It's a hypothetical question I suppose. I would probably have to have dialogue with the SFA and I would respect their views, obviously, and I would have to respect the players' views.”

Asked whether he would have wanted to play in a British team, Lennon added: “Probably not. I think that is important (the home nations' autonomy) but I think the Olympics, traditionally, should be an amateur sport.

“I know it has changed quite a great deal over the last three or four Olympics but I don't feel professional soccer should be an Olympic sport. It wouldn't have appealed to me really.”

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