Belfast Telegraph

Biting Back: Neil Lennon's clever management works at Bolton

By Declan Bogue

I must admit, I wasn't sure about Neil Lennon. Used to think that he was more culpable than he was prepared to admit in getting into scrapes. Felt he suffered from the same affliction as Ray Wilkins when it came to passing the ball forward. Begrudged him the win over Barcelona as Celtic manager as a man who simply parked the bus and got lucky on the break.

Then I read his autobiography and spotted a keen self-deprecating wit. Learned how he recovered from injury set-backs sweating himself silly in the primitive weights room of Crewe Alexandra.

But it has been his appearances on Match of the Day and Football Focus that has blown me away. He has revealed himself to be an entertaining, thoughtful contributor who, in a very understated way, wipes the floor with his fellow analysts yet has the good grace to sit there and listen to their tortured metaphors and clichés.

Soccer is a world that is slavish to trends and moods. When Martin O'Neill rescued Roy Keane from obscurity, suddenly his name was serious currency and a number of clubs began to seek his services.

Yet Lennon sat until October until Bolton Wanderers seemingly 'took a chance' on him, while they languished at the bottom of the Championship. Now they are nine points off a play-off spot.

He has also brought back Eidur Gudjohnsen, a 36-year-old man who has kept himself in fantastic condition and class. They will be in for training on Christmas Day for their derby match against Blackburn the following day.

Such a simple move, such clever management. And Lennon is not done yet.

Belfast Telegraph


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