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Why it would be 'odd' if Neil Lennon was sacked by Celtic following Rangers defeat, explains Chris Sutton

 

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Few would argue that Neil Lennon's Celtic have any chance of lifting a 10th successive league title after Saturday's defeat to Rangers.

Few would argue that Neil Lennon's Celtic have any chance of lifting a 10th successive league title after Saturday's defeat to Rangers.

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Few would argue that Neil Lennon's Celtic have any chance of lifting a 10th successive league title after Saturday's defeat to Rangers.

Neil Lennon has done enough to retain his job as Celtic manager despite Saturday's defeat to Rangers, according to a club legend.

While stopping short of revealing his own feelings on whether or not the Lurgan man should stay in the post after his side fell 19 points adrift of their Glasgow rivals at the Scottish Premiership summit, Sutton has explained why he would find it 'odd' should the club decide to make a mid-season change.

The pressure was ramped up on Lennon at the end of November when a shock League Cup exit at the hands of Ross County came amid a run of just one win in seven matches.

However, the boss was backed by the club's hierarchy, who announced their intention to review the situation come the turn of the year.

With the Hoops having, in the mean time, enjoyed a run of six successive wins going into Saturday's Old Firm derby - including completing the quadruple treble with the Scottish Cup final victory over Hearts - Sutton reckons the club is now 'in a pickle' and can't change their mind on the manager without seeming inconsistent.

"If they were to now sack him on the back of the Old Firm defeat at Ibrox, I would find it extremely odd," Sutton wrote in his Daily Record column.

"I made no secret of the fact that I thought Neil was fortunate to keep his job on the back of the Ross County loss in the Betfred which added to the two Euro exits (Champions League and Europa League) with the title already looking like it was lost.

"I wouldn't have had any qualms had the board pulled the trigger at that point. The fact they did not is what makes the dynamic of the situation right at this moment in time very interesting.

"In the three previous Old Firm matches, Rangers had wiped the floor with (Celtic). Saturday? That was different. Celtic were dominant. They controlled the game from the start until the red card. The tactics were spot on and gave the visitors the upper hand.

"The team selection was pretty much perfect in the eyes of the supporters pre match and, were it not for the heroics of Allan McGregor, Neil’s team would have been a couple of goals ahead at the interval."

Sutton did concede that a failure to sign goalkeeper Fraser Forster on a permanent deal from Southampton in the summer was a 'hammer blow' while both the indifferent form of signing Shane Duffy and the club's lack of fire power up front were 'on Neil Lennon' but his point is that the club hierarchy already seemed to disagree when the opportunity to make a change presented itself.

Lennon is currently guiding his side through warm weather training in Dubai on a mid-season trip that has proved controversial, with Scotland being placed into more strict lockdown measures from midnight tonight.

He will be confident of keeping his job for the visit of Hibernian next Monday (January 11), especially after former Barcelona and Real Madrid hero Georghe Hagi released a short press release denying reports in his native Romania that talks had already begun between the former Galatasaray boss and Celtic.

Belfast Telegraph


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