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Neil Lennon facing crisis talks with board over Hibernian future

 

By Steven Beacom

Neil Lennon will hold discussions with the Hibs board after Sunday's eagerly awaited league game at home to Rangers with the crunch talks set to determine his future at the club.

The former Northern Ireland star claimed that he could quit the manager's job at Easter Road in the summer following Wednesday night's disappointing 2-1 defeat at derby rivals Hearts.

While frustrated by the result, which means Hibs are likely to finish fourth in the Scottish Premiership, it is understood that the ex-Celtic boss, whose current contract runs until 2020, is also concerned about whether the ambitions of the Edinburgh club match his own.

Lennon knows he is set to lose a number of key players this summer and wants assurances during the meeting that Hibs will replace them with quality in order to keep the team moving forward.

Midfielder Dylan McGeouch is leaving while loan spells for Brandon Barker, Scott Allan, Florian Kamberi and Jamie Maclaren all expire after the weekend. Most crucial of all John McGinn is entering the final year of his contract with Bournemouth, Brighton and Celtic all weighing up a move for Lennon's best player.

The Lurgan man, having won league titles and cups in charge of Celtic, does not want his career in the dug-out to stagnate and will challenge the Hibs hierarchy to share his vision of turning them into a trophy winning outfit.

The 46-year-old is well aware that Brendan Rodgers and Celtic will splash the cash in the coming months as will Rangers, under new boss Steven Gerrard, and while he appreciates it will be difficult to compete with the Old Firm in terms of finance, he wants to be given a fair crack of the whip.

The one time Bolton boss said: "I have got some re-evaluation to do for my own personal aims. Do I want to do it? I've got to think about that."

Lennon added: “It will come down to a lot. The squad is going to be different and we have a lot of work to do obviously.

“So I have got those things to think about, but we are not moving in the right way at the minute. That may change.”

The Hibs board would like to keep Lennon, who has made the Easter Road side a serious player again in Scottish football.

He earned them promotion to the top flight and this season has inspired the team to battle Aberdeen and Rangers for second spot.

The opportunity to be runners-up behind Celtic ended in midweek, but fourth place, although deemed “unacceptable” by Lennon, shows progress is being made.

If in the highly unlikely event Hibs defeat Rangers by six goals on Sunday they will finish third and qualify for the Europa League. Otherwise, to be playing in Europe next term, they need Celtic to beat Motherwell in the Scottish Cup final tomorrow week.

On the board, Lennon said: “I don’t know what they want. They haven’t had targets set for next season, I don’t know what the budget is for next season. I don’t know what the budget is for this season to tell you the truth.”

The Hibs manager was scathing of his players after the Hearts loss, branding some of his players “amateurs” for choosing the wrong footwear and slamming the defending of his team, who conceded goals to Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty and Steven Naismith.

Lennon blasted: “I said, ‘Make sure you’ve got the right footwear on’ and five minutes into the game we’ve got people slipping. So that really riles me.

“If they are not going to listen, if I am not getting my message through, then maybe somebody else should come in and maybe they will listen to him.”

Belfast Telegraph

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