Win or bust
Lennon knows only a title triumph will keep him in a job at Celtic
Published 21/12/2010 | 05:00
Celtic will replace Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premier League table with a home win against improving Kilmarnock tonight.
Even so, manager Neil Lennon is well aware that if his side isn't at the summit come May, then his first full season in charge at Parkhead will also be his last.
The 39-year-old was confirmed as the successor to Tony Mowbray in June, but was given a one-year contract and he doesn't expect an extension unless he can prevent Walter Smith guiding Rangers to a third successive title in his final campaign at Ibrox.
He revealed yesterday that he has no plans to discuss his situation with the club.
"It will be based on results," he said. "We'll see how things go over the next few months but I'm not going to bang any doors down. I'll just concentrate on what I'm doing at the minute."
Asked whether being offered a longer contract would be helpful, he replied: "Yeah, but my remit was to turn things around. You won't be able to evaluate that until later on down the line.
"This is an important time of the season, more so than ever because of the enforced break. I hope there will be a freshness. There might be a bit of rustiness to start with but, from a physical point of view, they'll be fresh.
"We've got four big games coming up and it's important that we get a consistent run going again."
Despite the cancellations caused by the frost and snow, Lennon does not support talk of extending the league season.
"We lost the league in 2003 and had to play so many extra games. We went down to the wire and lost the league by a goal.
"Were we the best team in the league that year? Some people say, looking back, that we probably were but the history books will tell you that Rangers were the most consistent team.
"They will say they deserved to win it. We didn't get breathing space, neither did Rangers in 2008. How would that have looked if Rangers had been given an extension, when we weren't?
"You need to have a fairness about the thing and the league has to be finite."
Scotland midfielder Scott Brown will return to the Celtic squad tonight after being out for almost three months after breaking a bone in his foot.
However, Celtic's attempt to have Cha Du Ri and Ki Sung Yeung available for the meeting with Rangers at Ibrox on January 2 has failed, with the South Korean FA insisting that the pair report for duty in the Asian Cup.
"We're going on Sunday after the (Motherwell) game," said Ki. "I don't know how long I'll be away. It depends on how far we go -- but it finishes on January 29.
"The Asian Cup is very big. We haven't won it in 50 years and a lot of fans are hoping we do, because Korea did very well in the World Cup so there are high expectations."
Just like, as Lennon knows, at Parkhead. (Daily Telegraph, London)