Former Celtic defender Johan Mjällby has talked about Neil Lennon trying to bring him back as assistant boss.
Mjällby and Lennon enjoyed a fruitful spell together in the Celtic dugout. They engineered a famous win over Barcelona, as well as huge title wins. Mjällby, not just a major influence under Martin O’Neill, is oft-forgotten in terms of his role in 9IAR.
Speaking to Mark Wilson and the Celtic Huddle Podcast, Mjällby claims Lennon tried to bring him back in 2019. Neither party, according to the Swede have any regrets over what happened next. Interestingly, Mjällby indicated that Lennon was happy with his backroom staff, and had everything he needed to run another title charge.
Mjällby said [Celtic Huddle Podcast]:
“He took on the challenge to work with John [Kennedy] and Gavin [Strachan], when the next job comes calling, he probably knows what kind of assistant he wants. We all have different abilities.
“We had a brief chat about [coming back] when he just got in through the door. He was interested in trying to bring me on. That fizzled out, which is fine. And, you know, I’m not walking around thinking about it. We usually don’t pick up the phone and chit-chat.
“I think he was quite happy with his assistants. They had a poor season this year, but he had no problem working with John [Kennedy] the previous season.”
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Johan Mjällby on Neil Lennon’s Celtic exit and legacy
Unfortunately, despite Lennon’s happiness or unhappiness with his backroom staff, it didn’t work out this season. Lennon left Celtic after nearly two years in charge, having followed from Brendan Rodgers. In his first season and a half, Lennon secured 9IAR and the Quadruple Treble.
Ultimately, however, just as Lennon’s Mjällby approach “fizzled out”, so did Lennon’s reign. Shock defeats to Ross County (twice), Europa League failures and the capitulation of the league meant there was only one result.
“There was probably no other way it could’ve ended. It’s just a results-driven business, especially being the manager of Celtic. I don’t think anyone was surprised in the end. It’s obviously still sad, I respect [Lennon] a lot as a person, and especially as a manager.
“I think Neil is an excellent manager. He’s a true Celtic legend as well, he’s done so much good. I’m confident he will come back and be successful with another team somewhere else. You know him, after a couple of months he’s going to be itching to take on a team again.
“Even if he had a poor season with the team and the club this year, he’s done so much good.”