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Rangers' prolonged manager search is a 'sign of the times' says Neil Lennon

 

By Andy Newport

Hibernian boss Neil Lennon has admitted his surprise over the turmoil surrounding Rangers and their pursuit of a new manager.

The Ibrox club, and much of Scottish football, were stunned when Aberdeen chief Derek McInnes turned down the opportunity to take the vacant manager's position.

In the meantime, caretaker boss Graeme Murty has led the club to three successive wins and they currently sit second in the Scottish Premiership table.

Lennon said: "It's a sign of the times. Five or 10 years ago, people would have snapped your hand off to be Rangers manager.

"It's difficult for me to comment because I don't know what's going on behind the scenes. I was surprised Derek turned it down but there were obviously personal and other reasons for not taking the job.

"It is a bit peculiar that a club of that stature, it's taking them so long to find a manager, but they will feel it's important that it's not just a short-term fix."

Lennon's Hibs will host the Gers at Easter Road tonight after coming from two goals down to claim a thrilling point against Celtic on Sunday, and he is well aware of the threat they pose despite their troubles.

The former Celtic manager added: "They're still in the embryonic stages of building to try and get back to where they were, and that takes a bit of time.

"We respect them, I think it will be a difficult game. They are second in the league, but they should be second in the league with the resources they have.

"They are off the back of three wins so maybe they are starting to find a consistency of performance."

A win would see Hibs go level on points with Rangers, and Lennon knows it is important to capitalise while they can.

"It's a difficult ask to finish second, but while we're in among it then yeah we have a chance," he said.

"Three points are important because we have Aberdeen at the weekend and it's a big game between two big clubs.

"There's a rivalry there now, established since the cup final and with both teams being in the Championship in their recent history."

Meanwhile, Murty has confessed that director of football Mark Allen will have the final say on the Light Blues' January transfer targets.

While Murty has seen his run in charge of the first team extended until the end of December at least, he confirmed Allen retains overall command of player recruitment.

The interim manager is part of the discussion group weighing up areas of weakness in the squad and new signings.

But, for now, former Manchester City academy boss Allen will have the last word.

"Our recruitment department and Mark are looking at targets," he explained. "They are looking at players with the characteristics required to play for this club.

"I'm not involved in identifying targets. I'm involved in identifying characteristics and areas of the squad we need to strengthen.

"We're in daily discussions but as it comes closer to that time and to individual players, you'll have to talk to Mark because he's in charge of that side of it at the moment in our current set-up."

Murty conceded that Rangers risk missing out on their top targets while they focus on the concluding their long-running hunt for Pedro Caixinha's replacement.

He said: "It's possible. But I think we're buying a bit of trouble if we get focused on it.

"We've identified there are areas we need to strengthen and it's down to the recruitment group to make sure that those best targets are identified.

"As or when a new manager comes in they will be addressed at that time, along with the new manager's targets.

"If there is no one in place I'm sure there will be other plans put in place to help the squad through what is a very busy period."

Hibernian vs Rangers

Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership

Easter Road, Tonight, 7.45pm

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