What next? A few options for outgoing Celtic manager Neil Lennon

By Euan Davidson

February 25, 2021

We’re not sure if you heard, but Neil Lennon has left Celtic Football Club.

Imagining for a second that you missed the news yesterday, we covered it extensively. From how the story broke, the question marks around his staff and the immediate future under John Kennedy. Like Fleetwood Mac sang though, yesterday’s gone. Fans, players and board alike will be looking to the next steps; Lennon must, too.

Just as when Lennon left the first time, the Lurgan-born ex-Celtic manager will have options. Despite two spells with the Bhoys, though, they may not necessarily be the most glamorous of moves. For example, he took over at cash-strapped Bolton Wanderers in 2014 [BBC]. After that, Lenny enjoyed a fruitful spell at Hibs.

So, since we have somewhat of a duty of care for our former boss, let’s consider some options. Like disillusioned career advisers, we’re going to be entirely realistic. Perhaps depressingly so.

Would Aberdeen supporters accept Neil Lennon? / (Photo by Scott Baxter/Getty Images)

Former Celtic boss Neil Lennon to Aberdeen?

Derek McInnes has done a fantastic job in Aberdeen, overall. However, the former Rangers midfielder is up against it this season [Evening Express]. The Dons are only just over a 5-game scoreless run, which included defeat to Neil Lennon and Celtic. They’re not picking up wins expected of them, and McInnes’ endless rebuild in the North-East hangs on a shoogly peg.

So, if the job were to become vacant, you’d imagine Neil Lennon might fancy it. After all, he enjoyed proving some doubters wrong in Leith, with Hibernian. The Aberdeen job has similar stature, and it would be an opportunity, again, to prove himself as a top manager in Scotland.

His remit would be entirely different to Celtic, of course. McInnes has had to rebuild new sides nearly from scratch more than once, while being competitive. Given the turnover of players he’s overseen, the Dons gaffer’s job is considerable, and criticism seems a little… entitled? Who’s to say.

It’s a job that would hold some lustre for Lenny. Whether or not he’d want to continue in Scottish football in the short-term, however, is an entirely different question.

Will Lennon follow another ex-Celtic boss? / (Photo by Ira L. Black – Corbis/Getty Images)

Lenny: Coming to America?

First off: howdy to our North American readers. We’d love to hear from you, feel free to get in touch.

Secondly: is it so strange to imagine another Celtic manager joining the MLS? Given that Ronny Deila is currently coaching New York City FC, there is very recent precedent. Also, with Celtic’s appeal in the US, specifically the North East coast, it’s not hard to envision a club look to secure a place in the hearts of Bhoys in the States.

With that in mind, Lennon could enjoy a complete change of scene by looking for opportunities across the pond. As a coach or indeed, a pundit, a la Craig Burley.

As a title-winning manager with experience in Europe’s premier cup competitions, Lennon holds sway and appeal. The MLS, while a growing league, isn’t laden with top-level coaching talent. Not quite yet. Lennon could come in and instantly be amongst the most reputable managers in the league.

Former Croatia boss Slaven Bilic is working in India / (Photo by Adam Fradgley – AMA/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images)

Indian Super League

Is Neil Lennon a better coach than Csaba László, Robbie Fowler or Steve Coppell? Undoubtedly, despite everything that’s happened recently.

There seems to be an influx of UK-based coaching talent heading to India. The Indian Super League was created in 2013 and has enjoyed exponential growth, attracting the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Florent Malouda and… [checks notes] Miku! Ah, there you go: remember Miku? A class act.

Like the MLS, it’s an opportunity to enjoy an entirely different culture, in football and in a wider sense. It’d certainly represent a challenge for the former Celtic manager Neil Lennon, who’ll be leaving the ‘Goldfish Bowl’ of central Scotland. As a big name, but not a globally recognised one, he’d have less pressure on his shoulders than say, Del Piero.

He’d also join the ex-Celtic contingent. Owen Coyle is currently boss of Jamshedpur FC. Imagine the laughs they could have:  a fish-out-of-water sitcom featuring Lennon and Coyle would be fantastic viewing.

Lennon played against Cannavaro as a player / (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

Neil Lennon in China?

From a managerial point of view, Neil Lennon is at least the equivalent of Fabio Cannavaro. As a player, almost certainly not, but the Italian Ballon D’Or winner has managed in China for over 3 years [Transfermarkt]. Someone like the ex-Celtic boss might do well in an entirely new environment.

Equally, it’d be an opportunity that would set him up for life. The amount of money on offer in the Chinese top-flight is absolutely staggering. Marouane Fellaini is on a reported €240,000 per week [Statista]. That being the case, you could quite easily envision a scenario in which Lennon more than trebles his Celtic pay-packet in the Far East.

If an offer were forthcoming, it’d be fascinating to see how Lennon would get on in the Chinese top-flight. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jordi Cryuff and Slaven Bilic would give the former Celtic manager an entirely new experience, a new way of life.

Strangers things have happened. That’s all we’re saying.

READ MORE: Respected pundit highlights 3 names for the Celtic job.