Monday 22 January 2018

Scott Brown surprised by news of Neil Lennon's exit

Scott Brown of Celtic
Scott Brown of Celtic

Tom Allnutt

Celtic captain Scott Brown admits he was surprised by Neil Lennon's decision to stand down as Bhoys manager and believes the Northern Irishman will be a tough act to follow at Celtic Park.

Lennon resigned last week after four successful years at the club that included winning three Premiership titles and two Scottish Cups.

He also guided the club to the last 16 of the Champions League after a memorable 2-1 victory against Barcelona in November 2012.

"I was surprised to hear the news - he's been fantastic at the club, he helped us a lot and he's made me the player I am today. We wish him all the best," Brown said.

"It's been great since he came in, even when he was caretaker he brought positivity into the side - he wanted to attack and play good football and he continued that throughout his Celtic career."

Brown added: "We sat down and talked about football a lot so I learned a lot under his leadership.

"He can have a huge future, he's a great manager and there will be a club out there lucky enough to take him."

Owen Coyle, Malky Mackay and Henrik Larsson have all been linked with taking over the Scottish champions with Coyle installed as the bookies' favourite.

Brown would not be drawn on who he would like to be given the job but believes Lennon's are big boots to fill.

"He's a great manager and he's always going to be a hard act to follow but I've got faith in whoever comes in and whoever the board picks," Brown said.

"We've got to look forward to the Champions League qualifiers and no matter who comes in we've got to go again, we've got to win the league, we've got to try to and get into the Champions League as well.

"It's a good job for whoever comes in and we're just sad to see Neil go."

Another coach who has made a strong impression on Brown in recent months is Scotland manager Gordon Strachan.

Despite failing to qualify for this summer's World Cup in Brazil, Strachan has revitalised the Tartan Army, overseeing four victories and one draw in the last five matches.

Scotland take on Nigeria in a friendly at Craven Cottage on Wednesday night and Brown says the effect Strachan has had on the players' confidence has been considerable.

"I've worked with the manager before and I know what he's all about, he's all about confidence," Brown said.

"He lets the players go and express themselves especially high up the park.

"He wants us to pass the ball, move it well and create chances and I think in the last four or five games we've done that and we want to continue that against Nigeria."

Nigeria are Scotland's last scheduled opponents before their qualification campaign for the European Championships starts against Germany on September 7.

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