Former captain Lennon takes the reins as hunt begins for new manager
Published 26/03/2010 | 05:00
The Italian's contract with the FAI runs until the end of the 2012 Euro qualifiers and would cost around £3m to buy out -- a daunting sum for Celtic, who have preached financial prudence in recent years -- but he has a fine track record, an impressive name and an excellent reputation as a hard-working ambassador off the field for his current employers.
One pressure that has been removed from Celtic is the need for urgent action. The Scottish title race is lost, but they are favourites for the Scottish Cup after Rangers' dismissal by Dundee United.
Lennon is now in charge for an indefinite period, but an upsurge in form and commitment under the former Parkhead captain would almost certainly keep him in place until the end of the season. Scottish Cup success is worth around £1m -- a little under half of Celtic's income from Scottish domestic TV revenues -- and would be a feather in Lennon's cap and, even if he were not to be regarded as successor to Mowbray, the exercise would be useful with a view to his future appointment.
In those circumstances, too, the combination of Lennon with a proven coach of the stature of Trapattoni would present a potent combination. In the meantime, while many Celtic fans are sorry for Mowbray on a personal basis, they are relieved to be done with the manager's habitual vapourings, of which his response to the 4-0 beating by St Mirren was typical.
In a barely disguised dig at Rangers, Mowbray said of the SPL: "Maybe it is a league for playing defensive football and negative football, but have the quality up front to counter-attack, particularly away from home."
Next Celtic manager -- Latest odds: 2/1 Neil Lennon, 7/2 Paul Lambert, 8/1 Willie McStay, 12/1 John Hughes, Roy Keane, 28/1 Owen Coyle, 40/1 Mick McCarthy, David O'Leary, Kenny Dalglish, Giovanni Trapattoni, Henrik Larsson.