Celtic: Neil Lennon would welcome return as manager

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland
Lennon does not regret his Bolton experience

Neil Lennon would welcome a return to Celtic as the Glasgow club's manager with Ronny Deila stepping down at the end of the season.

The 44-year-old Lennon spent four years in charge before leaving in summer 2014, when he was succeeded by the Norwegian, but is now a free agent.

"I'm not promoting myself for the job," Lennon told BBC Scotland. "I'll leave that to the powers that be.

"But if I get the chance to speak to the Celtic board then I will."

David Moyes, the former Everton and Manchester United who left Real Sociedad in November, is also likely to be in Celtic's thinking but is believed to be attracted to the vacancy at Aston Villa.

A third former Celtic player, Malky Mackay, who was sacked by Wigan Athletic in April, has recently spoken about the attraction of the job with the Scottish Premiership leaders.

Meanwhile, Henrik Larsson has told BBC Scotland that his "only concern" is Helsingborgs, the side of which the former Celtic striker is head coach having had a poor start to the Swedish season and lying fourth bottom of the table.

"I am sure there will be a long list of people who will want the Celtic job because it's one of the best jobs in football," said Lennon.

"I am sure the board will have names and candidates in mind and that will be the process going forward now.

Neil Lennon and David Moyes
Neil Lennon and David Moyes could both be considered by Celtic

"I would imagine they would want to find a successor as soon as possible with the Champions League qualifiers coming so early again."

After leaving Celtic in summer 2014, Lennon went on to take charge at Bolton Wanderers that October.

However, he exited the English Championship club in March with his side at the foot of the table and with the club in financial trouble and having just been taken over by the Sports Shield consortium.

Lennon insists he does not regret his decision to leave Celtic and said: "The time was right for me,

"I thoroughly enjoyed my four years at Celtic, but I had 18 months at Bolton, which has given me a completely different spectrum to the game, so I think I am better off for the experience.

"I had 15 years with the club on and off, so I have a great affinity with the club.

"I would know what I'm walking into."

Deila exit not a surprise

Lennon was not surprised with the news that Deila would leave this summer.

"It was a well-kept secret that Ronny might leave at the end of the season and secrets are hard to keep in modern-day football," he said.

"I always expected Celtic to let him see the season out and hopefully win their second title in a row and that will be a nice way for him to finish.

"With five games to play and the title still to be won, it's maybe going to be a difficult period for Ronny and the players.

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"But they have to be professional now and make sure they finish the season on a high if they can."

Lennon thought that failings in European football had caught up on Deila.

"I thought towards this time last year, Celtic were in good form, particularly domestically, and I felt they finished the season really well and he won two trophies in his first season, which was great," he added.

"There was always a fall-out from elimination from the Champions League, there was no European football after the Europa League and then there was the Ross County defeat.

"They didn't really handle the big games well enough this season and I think that's been the main problem for him."