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'I want to manage': Neil Lennon determined to land job as Celtic skipper Brown backs 'winner'

Skipper Scott Brown says the current squad would 'love' Lennon to remain in charge

Celtic manager Neil Lennon clutches the Scottish Premiership trophy after winning the league for the fourth time as a manager.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon clutches the Scottish Premiership trophy after winning the league for the fourth time as a manager.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Lurgan man Neil Lennon is hoping he will be standing on a touchline come August - but where that will be remains to be seen.

The 47-year-old will lead Celtic out in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park on Saturday not knowing whether it will be his final match as manager.

The boss was brought back on a short-term deal when Brendan Rodgers' sudden departure shocked Parkhead on the eve of a Scottish Premiership game at Hearts and just four days ahead of the crunch Scottish Cup quarter-final win over Hibernian.

Lennon, whose hastily-arranged appointment was announced alongside Rodgers' departure, was able to guide the Hoops to a 2-0 win over his former side in that final eight tie.

He went on to secure nine wins in his 13 games in charge and those have been enough to put the finishing touches on the league title and reach Saturday's cup decider against Hearts.

But he knows even victory, securing the treble treble, might not be enough to convince Celtic chiefs that he's the man to hold off the challenge of Rangers over the next two years and reach 10-in-a-row.

"I would love it," Lennon told BBC Scotland of his desire to stay at Celtic Park. "It's a privileged position, I've done it before.

"I want to manage.

"Take a holiday first and then have a look at things and see what's there. I've really enjoyed the last three years being back in Scotland. I've had some great success both at Hibs and Celtic. I've enjoyed it immensely and it's been really good for me, so if it's not to be Celtic then I'm hoping for a new challenge somewhere else."

His current skipper Scott Brown, who came through training 'with flying colours' this week as he looks certain to play in the final despite a foot problem, echoes those sentiments as he talked up the job done by Lennon since his return to the club.

"If he stays, the lads would love it, if he doesn't we'll thank him for everything he's done for us," he said.

"He answered the call and he came right away. That's what you want, the passion and somebody who knows the club inside out. The lads have enjoyed every moment of (working under Lennon).

"He came in when we needed him eight years ago again and he was fantastic for me and for the team.

"He put us back on the map of winning trophies and leagues. He taught everyone what it means to be a winner.

"That's the one thing the manager is, he's a winner. He demands high standards and that we win week in week out.

"He loves the club more than anyone else in that dressing room. He's got great ambitions and if he gets the job it's fantastic for everyone.

"If he doesn't, he's done a fantastic job since coming in. (Finishing the treble treble) would be the icing on the cake for him."

A 2-0 derby defeat at Rangers has blotted Lennon's brief second stint, along with 0-0 draws against Aberdeen, Livingston and Hibernian. Such are the almost flawless standards demanded, that's been enough to put serious doubts on his chances of staying on.

"It's not my side, it's Brendan's and it's not my style of play, it's Brendan's," reasoned Lennon.

"People saying, 'Well the performances aren't the same' - well they are.

"If I had gone in there and changed things and it hadn't worked, then I would've been making a huge mistake. It was important to get the players over the line, win the league. The training, everything, we kept the same.

"Going forward, the style of play I think can be a little bit different. Teams are starting to work out the way we play. We need to be more flexible in our style."

The Scottish Cup final between Celtic and Hearts kicks off at 3pm on Saturday afternoon.

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