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Home Sport Football Scottish

Lennon will be a hit: Steven Davis

Steven Davis fully expects Neil Lennon to stamp his authority on the Celtic dressing room after watching him establish himself as an influential player for both club and country.

The Rangers midfielder never actually played alongside Lennon for Northern Ireland but knows all about what his fellow countryman had to offer as a footballer.

The former Hoops skipper now has the opportunity to make an impact as a manager after taking over as interim boss at Celtic following the departure of Tony Mowbray.

And Davis admits he is bracing himself to see an immediate reaction from their bitter rivals.

He said: "I've never been in the same squad as him but he was an influential player for both club and country on the pitch and the way he went about the game.

"He will probably try to bring those characteristics into the management style of things.

"You would expect a reaction from the Celtic players, you see that any time you get a change of manager, you expect an immediate reaction."

Mowbray parted company with Celtic after just nine months at the helm in the wake of a shock 4-0 defeat at St Mirren and Davis admits he was surprised by the timing of his exit.

"I thought they might have kept him until the end of the season," he said. "But they obviously decided to make the change now."

The events in Paisley helped deflect attention away from Rangers' own defeat to Dundee United in the Active Nation Scottish Cup, which shattered hopes of a domestic treble this season.

"Celtic's game was a little bonus but you have to still look at your own games," said Davis.

"It would have been a dream come true to win the treble but that's not to be.

"We have said all along that we need to keep concentrating on our games.

"As soon as you lose one, you can go into a little bit of a rut.

"Having got beat the other night, we have to get the bit between our teeth again and go again because we expect a tough game at Hearts."

Rangers could wrap up the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title before the league split if their winning streak continues, including a win over Hearts today, and the sooner the better as far as Davis is concerned.

He said: “We want to try and win it as soon as possible and we want to keep getting results and keep winning games. That's our focus at the moment.”

Boss Walter Smith insists being an Old Firm manager is still a coveted position after Mowbray's exit.

Bookmakers' favourite Paul Lambert has played down a return to the Hoops as manager, while Owen Coyle and Roberto Martinez rejected Celtic's advances before Mowbray was installed in the hotseat last summer.

“Rangers and Celtic are two great clubs and it's a privilege to be asked to manage them,” said Smith.

“You have to handle the circumstances but a lot of the boys in Scotland at the moment would do anything to get themselves into the circumstance of managing Rangers or Celtic.

“For me, I feel very fortunate, and I'm sure the boys at Celtic who have been asked to do the job feel exactly the same.

“They are great clubs. If we have circumstances to handle, we try to handle them as best we can.”

Smith returned for a second spell at Rangers in January 2007 following a hugely successful period at Ibrox in the 1990s.

And, while conceding the media scrutiny is greater than ever, he believes the pressures are no more intense now than in the past, despite Mowbray's fate.

“If you look at any previous managers, if they haven't been doing well at Rangers or Celtic, they are asked to leave.

“That's the circumstance and that's what you have to live with. I don't think that has changed in recent times.”

Belfast Telegraph

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