Neil Lennon needs to be replaced at Celtic, Damien Duff can step up

Irish international has recently opted out of Stephen Kenny's managerial team
Neil Lennon needs to be replaced at Celtic, Damien Duff can step up

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has endured a terrible season. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.

THE only reason Neil Lennon remains in a job at Celtic is that the club won't pay out to terminate the manager’s contract. 

Scottish football has struggled financially in recent years and more so now because of the pandemic. It’s obvious clubs like Rangers and Celtic don’t have the finances they once had which is evident by the calibre of players they sign. 

Celtic used to be able to attract well-known names but now, players like Fraser Forster would prefer to sit on the bench for Southampton than sign for the Hoops on a permanent basis.

Celtic were branded ‘arrogant’ by former player Andy Walker for their recent trip to Dubai, but I would say the club was being cheap. The new variant of coronavirus has led to a surge in cases and when Celtic booked the trip, the number of people catching the virus wasn’t as high. 

They might have thought when they organised the trip that the numbers would be better but once this new variant hit the United Kingdom, their ‘training camp’ trip to Dubai should have been cancelled but wasn’t and I feel that those involved in the club did not want to see their money go to waste. 

Instead of using that money for a wasted trip to Dubai, which has done more harm than good, they could have used it to pay Lennon off and find a manager that can manage at the highest level. 

Celtic's Ismaila Soro with Neil Lennon last month. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
Celtic's Ismaila Soro with Neil Lennon last month. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.

This season was the club's chance to secure a record-breaking 10 league titles in a row but instead, Rangers are cruising to glory under Steven Gerrard.

Yes, Lennon was successful in the past, but modern football has changed and results in Europe in recent years shows that Lennon isn’t capable of taking the Hoops to the next level.

Considering Lennon is the man that brought Virgil van Dijk to Celtic, it’s hard to believe he also thinks Shane Duffy was capable of playing for the club. 

I’m not saying Duffy is a bad player, he can defend, but just doesn’t suit a team that plays expansive football and leaves defenders exposed. 

The defender suits a team that asks its defenders to defend at the edge of the box and not play a high-line, which is why Duffy was exceptional with Brighton under Chris Hughton and was Ireland’s best player during Martin O’Neill’s time as manager. However, Duffy struggles in a side where the manager wants his defenders to play out from the back. 

Shane Duffy and Livingston's Scott Robinson. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.
Shane Duffy and Livingston's Scott Robinson. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.

That is why his game time was limited under Graham Potter at Brighton and why he has struggled with Ireland since Stephen Kenny took charge. Celtic are a team competing to win trophies and must be aggressive in games, which doesn’t suit Duffy. 

Apart from his first few weeks at the club, Duffy’s career in Scotland has been a disaster and part of it is his fault but Lennon must also take a lot of the blame for signing a player who isn’t comfortable the way Celtic must play.

Maybe I’m wrong, and Celtic will sack Lennon sooner rather than later. 

DUFF AT PARKHEAD:

I only believe this because of Damien Duff’s recent departure from Kenny’s coaching staff. Duff worked as part of Lennon’s management staff before taking up a role with Ireland and the former Premier League winner is highly thought of at Celtic Park. 

It might be a coincidence that Duff resigned from his job with the Irish team the same time as Lennon is struggling with Celtic, but I find it strange for someone to leave a job without having something else lined up. 

Why leave now? The next Ireland camp doesn’t meet up for another three months. 

Why not wait a bit closer to that date and continue to get a wage? Unless Duff needs to get out of his job, to take up a different role immediately.

Eddie Howe is favourite to get the Celtic job, but he wouldn’t be my first choice and if I were a Celtic supporter, I would be happier seeing Duff get the job than the former Bournemouth manager. Howe doesn’t seem like the type of manager that will be successful at a ‘big club’. 

Howe failed during a brief spell as Burnley manager and sometimes a person suits a club. Howe was comfortable at Bournemouth and I can’t see him successful somewhere else. 

Celtic need a hungry manager, up for a challenge and that can motivate players and I think Duff is the ideal candidate to replace Lennon when the Hoops board do finally decide to see sense and replace the Northern Irishman.

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