Neil Lennon has admitted he would have understood if Celtic had called time on his spell in charge of the Premiership behemoths following last Sunday’s defeat by Ross County, but CEO Peter Lawwell moving to replace him with John Kennedy is a gamble not worth taking.
Lennon’s position at the Parkhead helm is continually under threat during a season of abject misery for the nine-in-a-row title-holders, who could make history with a record 10th this term yet sit 11 points down on bitter rivals Rangers.
The power shift in Glasgow has been drastic with Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox natives a distant spec in Celtic’s rear-view mirror last season, ending the year 13 points behind when the SPFL brought the campaign to a early halt.
Emotions are rife in Glasgow as Celtic struggle, with hundreds of fans protesting and clashing with police outside Parkhead calling for Lennon to leave following last weeks’ loss to Ross County, which saw the Hoops eliminated from the League Cup at the first hurdle.
Lawwell has issued his public support for Lennon, stating the club will stick with the under-fire Northern Irishman who accepts his side’s faltering campaign could easily have led to him being fired at the weekend.
“Not in my heart of hearts [did I think it was over] but I could understand if that would have been the case, yes,” Lennon said, via quotes by Sky Sports. “I am very grateful [for Lawwell and the club’s backing]. They are not a board that sack managers for the sake of it.
“We have had great success, we are going through a tough time but they don’t leave you out in the lurch. It is really encouraging and comforting, and I have had great support from the players as well.”
Yet despite Lawwell’s public support and Lennon remaining in charge, Kennedy has emerged as a potential replacement with The Herald suggesting the former Hoops defender is highly regarded at Parkhead.
Kennedy spent five years working with Celtic’s Under 20s before taking a backroom role under Brendan Rodgers, where he has remained under Lennon after rejecting the chance to follow Rodgers to Leicester City.
But Lawwell going from Lennon to his number two is not a gamble the Celtic CEO should consider taking, even if the 37-year-old dreams of sitting in the Parkhead hot seat.
“I know where I want to go. But you only become Celtic manager when you’ve earned that right,” Kennedy said earlier this year, via quotes by the Daily Record. “Whether that comes in the future or not, time will tell.
“It would be a dream job, yes. Particularly, when I think of where I started out as a young boy. Celtic was the team I supported and from the minute I first became involved at the club as a young boy I wanted to reach the top. So, of course, it would be the dream job.”
Fans would have to wonder if Kennedy is ready to take his first step into senior management at a time of crisis at Celtic, where revolts are already happening outside the ground if not in the stands.
Would Kennedy be able to bring his own ideas to the table, or would the former Hoops defender lean on the tactics he has seen Rodgers and Lennon use to bring silverware to Glasgow?
All these questions and more will be ringing around Lawwell’s head and the only solution, right now, is to look for a more experienced choice should the curtain fall on Lennon’s tenure.