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Neil Lennon is the right fit for Celtic hot seat, insists Brendan Rodgers

 

Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers

By Graham Luney

Brendan Rodgers has urged Celtic chiefs to appoint Neil Lennon as the club's next manager.

Lennon stepped into the Parkhead hot seat after Rodgers' sudden exit for Leicester City in February and the Carnlough man says he hopes the former Northern Ireland international remains in the role.

Yesterday's 2-0 defeat at Rangers suggests former Hibs boss Lennon has work to do to convince his employers he's the man to take the Scottish Premiership champions forward but he's got Rodgers' backing.

"Neil's perfect for it," said Rodgers. "He understands Celtic and the pressures involved. The club will have many applicants because it's an amazing club.

"But not many will understand the expectations of Celtic, especially going for the ninth title. Neil gets that fully."

While the Hoops will pursue a record-equalling ninth title in a row next season, Rangers hit them with a warning by securing back to back home wins over Celtic for the first time in seven years.

James Tavernier and Scott Arfield were on target at Ibrox but Lennon does have a Scottish Cup final showdown against Hearts to look forward to.

The Hoops are bidding for an unprecedented third successive clean sweep of the domestic honours but many of their fans are still fuming at Rodgers for jumping ship to the Foxes.

Rodgers says he can understand the fans’ disappointment over his departure but he felt compelled to attend the funeral of club legend Billy McNeill.

“When I saw the news there was no doubt in my mind,” he said.

“Of course I understood the emotions related to me leaving. But Celtic is a family. Big Billy was such an iconic symbol of Celtic supporters and, when he passed away, you only wanted to be in one place really.

“It was strange, knowing the feelings that some people have towards me but it was never going to stop me.

“And it won’t stop me. Because I gave everything for Celtic.

“And hopefully over time people can recognise that and judge me purely on my work.”

There was a strong backlash to his departure — first a banner displayed at Tynecastle dubbed him a ‘fraud’ and stated he had ‘traded immortality for mediocrity’.

That was quickly followed by online footage of individuals fantasising about his death in song.

“I never get emotionally moved by words,” added the former Liverpool boss. “Because, if you let words control you, you’ll be so up and down.

“I saw the banner. But I’ll always be a Celt and I’ve never been a fraud.”

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