Thursday, 22 May 2014

Celtic: Neil Lennon ends his four-year spell as manager

Neil Lennon has confirmed he has left Celtic after four years as manager following talks about his future.

It is understood that the former club captain had been considering his position for some time despite securing a third straight Scottish title.

"I have parted company with Celtic," the 42-year-old Northern Irishman said in a brief statement.

"The club are in a very strong position and I wish the fans and the club all the very best for the future."
 Lennon's statement came after Thursday morning meeting with his representative, Martin Reilly, and ahead of scheduled talks with Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell.

"I can't thank Peter Lawwell and the board enough for their backing and support during my time as manager," he said.

Lennon took charge of the Glasgow club in 2010, leading them to three league titles and two Scottish Cups.

He also previously led Celtic to the Champions League last 16, with a victory over Barcelona in November 2012 being his side's most high-profile achievement.

However, he had concerns about his playing budget for next season and is believed to have been worried that his present side would be unable to negotiate three rounds of qualifying.

With Lennon having a rolling contract with Celtic, there has been annual speculation about his future and he is thought to have been close to leaving the club last summer before deciding to stay.
 West Bromwich Albion were believed to be aware of his availability previously before pursuing other targets but are again seeking a new manager after the departure of Pepe Mel.

Lennon has often expressed his desire to eventually manage in the Premier League in England but has been linked with the vacancy at relegated Norwich City.

Former Celtic defender Malky Mackay, sacked by Cardiff City last season, had been favourite to take charge at Carrow Road, but the Norfolk outfit have yet to make a move to appoint the former Watford boss.

Mackay will himself now be among those being linked with the vacancy at Celtic Park, although the bookmakers' favourite is former Hoops striker Henrik Larsson, currently in charge of Swedish outfit Falkenbergs.

Speculation had heightened this summer about Lennon's position after his assistant, Johan Mjallby, confirmed he was leaving the club to "seek some different opportunities".
 Lennon's representative, though, said that the Northern Irishman had "nothing lined up" at another club.

"Four years is a good spell to be manager of a club like Celtic, but now Neil wants to look ahead to the next chapter of his career," said Reilly.

"He just feels now is the time to move on to the next challenge."

A former midfielder who started his senior career with Glenavon in his homeland, Lennon played for Manchester City, Crewe Alexandra and Leicester City before joining Celtic in 2000.

He had a seven-year spell as a player at Celtic Park and returned as first-team coach in 2008 after short spells with Nottingham Forest and Wycombe Wanderers before taking charge in 2010 after a spell as caretaker.

( By Chris McLaughlin BBC Sport )





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