As the days slowly pass by, things are looking increasingly bleak for Celtic. The Hoops are 23 points behind their fierce rivals and Neil Lennon will do anything but leave.
The club won for the first time in 2021 over Hamilton in midweek, but after a run of just eight wins in their last 23 games, it’s time for the Northern Irishman to leave.
Peter Lawwell has already taken the decision to retire at the end of the season but now Lennon must take a similar decision to leave Parkhead behind.
Chelsea sacked Frank Lampard and naturally, he’s now being discussed as the next Hoops manager. It was an idea that enthralled Pat Nevin, who told 67hailhail this week: “What you want is an ethos, and certainly that’s what I think of when I think of Celtic. He’s [Lampard] not a bad fit for that.”
Nevin added: “He’s going to have to take a step away from the top level in England. I think Celtic’s a big ask at that point in time. It would be one hell of a chance to take.”
This would be an eye-catching appointment, but you only need to look across Glasgow to realise what a natural-winner has done for Rangers. Steven Gerrard has taken the Gers to another level and in Lampard – his former England teammate – the same could happen.
The fact of the matter is that Celtic need to return to the top and they need it to happen quickly. Fortunately, Lampard is capable of doing that.
The 42-year-old may have struggled in his second campaign with Chelsea, being fired after a run of just two wins in his last eight league games, but what he did last term deserves huge praise. Despite spending nothing because of a transfer ban, he took the Blues to Champions League football.
Clearly, the former midfielder is good at working on a low budget and that would come in handy at Celtic, a club whose transfer record doesn’t surpass the £9m mark.
Another positive that Nevin raised was the following: “One thing I would say that Frank would bring to wherever he goes to: his connections are amazing. The way he’s liked in the game is amazing. The players he could get, particularly at a Scottish club… I’ve ran a Scottish club myself before. One of the biggest things you can get is to tap into other markets, and get players you otherwise wouldn’t get. Frank’s pretty special on that level.”
Gerrard has been able to do the same and has tapped into his connections at Liverpool, bringing the likes of Ryan Kent and Sheyi Ojo to the club in recent years. Current players have a lure for nostalgia and numerous Chelsea signings have spoken in the past of how a conversation with Lampard brought them to London. That kind of impact at Celtic would undoubtedly be invaluable.
Pivotally, though, he fits the club’s philosophy. Nevin said: “We lived under the rule of score an early goal and press on regardless, the Celtic Way. That’s how Frank is. It might look a bit gung-ho. But my thoughts of what Celtic is as a club, an ethos is, is that. He’s not brainless in not leaving anyone at the bank, but if Frank is considered anything, that’s the way he’s considered.
“You don’t want negativity, you don’t want somebody who goes one up and holds it. It’s just not the Celtic way. Frank’s not that, he’s much more positive.”
Lennon has hardly been a pillar of positivity in recent months so this has the potential to be game-changing.
Lampard has connections, can work under a small budget and knows how to get the best from young players.
For those reasons alone, he could help Celtic usurp Rangers again. This is a man Dermot Desmond simply has to consider if Lennon leaves.