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Howe hot favourite for job

Lennon unsure if he still has backing of Celtic board

Worry: Neil Lennon (pic: SNS Group)

Under-pressure Celtic boss Neil Lennon has admitted he doesn’t know if he still has the backing of the Parkhead board.

Majority shareholder Dermot Desmond and chief executive Peter Lawwell have been staunch supporters of the Northern Irishman amidst a horrendous run of results.

However, a second league draw against Livingston in a matter of days, could well prove the catalyst for change which the supporters have been demanding for months.

The odds on former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe replacing Lennon continue to shorten, with the highly-rated Englishman the clear hot favourite for the post.

Asked if he thought he still had the board’s backing after the 2-2 draw in West Lothian which saw Celtic go four consecutive league games without a win for the first time in 21 years, Lennon said: “I can’t answer that. You’re asking the wrong person. I’ve been concerned about my position for a long time.

“When I came in I didn’t know how long I was going to be in the job for because there was an outcry of ‘maybe he’s not good enough, blah blah blah…’

“But I’ve won five trophies out of six so far.

“We are going through a difficult season. From my point of view, it’s not been good enough. It’s not been consistent enough and we’ve not played well enough.”

A season in which Celtic had dreamed of completing an historic 10 league titles in a row has quickly turned into a nightmare, Rangers now 20 points clear with two more games played.

The pressure of winning a tenth consecutive championship seems to have proved too much for Lennon and his team.

“There’s an expectancy to win 10 in a row but it’s never guaranteed,” he said. “Even when we won eight, people were talking about 10 when we hadn’t won nine.

“We had to go and win nine, we did that and there was a lot of expectancy going into the season, but we’ve been disappointing.

“But the club isn’t a shambles, far from it. It’s not in crisis off the field.

“The board have been magnificent, they’ve presided over nine titles in a row, a quadruple Treble.

“That’s unheard of any in era of football. People need to take a step back and put a perspective on it.”

This latest setback is yet another body blow in the wake of the ill-advised training camp in Dubai and a remarkable press conference earlier this week from Lennon in which he hit out at the “hypocrisy” of those criticising the club for going to the Middle East.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney hit back at Lennon’s accusation of a political agenda against Celtic and branded his comments “appalling”.

No fewer than 16 Hoops players and staff were forced to self isolate after the winter camp in the UAE after Christopher Jullien tested positive for Covid-19.

The minister said: “I am at a loss for words, frankly.

“I have no ill will towards Neil Lennon whatsoever but I think his comments in this respect have been absolutely appalling.” 

To cap yet another bad day for the defending champions, captain Scott Brown was red carded late in last night’s game just minutes after coming on as a substitute against Livingston, who have now gone 10 matches unbeaten.

Desmond is reportedly considering a major restructure behind the scenes at Celtic.

His 38-year-old financier son Ross is thought to be in line for a board position, while director of football operations Nicky Hammond could be on his way out despite only being appointed to the role in October.

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