From the moment I heard, this morning, that Jack Ross had been sacked as manager of Hibs I knew that there would be stories about Neil Lennon returning there and facing us in the League Cup Final. It is a journalists wet dream scenario. It was obvious that there would be a lot of chit-chat about it. It is equally obvious that it will not happen.
Here’s the thing; I understand that it’s possible. There are two major things that make it possible. The first is that Lennon was a popular manager there (for a while) and is freely available. Many of their fans would accept it, and especially when you consider that he would jump at it and the chance to prove that he can take Ange and his ideas on.
Don’t’ underestimate the attraction of that for Lennon, and for some at Hibs who might think that it’s an ideal scenario. It’s not impossible that this thinking might move the needle.
The other reason it’s possible is that there’s no Leann Dempster at Hibs any longer. That’s an even bigger factor than the first. His relationship with her disintegrated and that’s what led to the final showdown between them. With her gone, there might be an open door to his return. This is the theory behind the stories anyway.
But it’s all too mad. The Hibs board is still comprised of people who were there at the time and they know what went down. The simple fact is, their directors aren’t as daft as ours. They saw not only what happened at their own club but now have what happened at ours as their ultimate warning. Unlike the fools in our boardroom they will heed it.
Lennon will struggle to get an interview at a club right now. He hasn’t impressed people with his ranting and raving and refusal to accept any responsibility for what happened at Celtic. He had the best squad in the country at his disposal and self-destructed. He needs to own that, but he hasn’t and he’s made it increasingly clear that he won’t.
Whoever gets the Hibs job will have a shot at winning a domestic trophy. But they’ll also have the chance to lose it, in what might be their first actual outing. There is a crazy attraction to that which will appeal to some, but most will be put off by it.
Hibs will probably appoint an interim boss; indeed, they already have. David Gray takes over alongside Eddie May and Craig Samson whilst they do the search for a new manager. Would Lennon take the job with no guarantees of getting it? To take on Celtic, it would appeal to him, and I have little doubt about that. But I just don’t believe their board would even consider it.
Another Neil – Alex Neil – has already been named as the potential successor to Ross. That sounds far more likely, and he would do a good job. He would make them a tougher prospect, harder to beat. He would make them aggressive. The Hibs fans would back that.
There is no guarantee that they would be happy about the appointment of Lennon again any more than some of us were. It would be a disaster in the making and a lot of them would be prepared to say so. That alone makes it highly improbable.
I have to admit that it’s a fascinating scenario. It makes me laugh to think about the possibilities. I am totally confident that Ange Postecoglou would have his number and that we would win the game, but it would certainly add some extra spice to the encounter.
I fully understand, therefore, why it’s being talked about. I really don’t think it will happen. But then, I’ve been wrong about Lennon before. I didn’t think he’d ever return to Celtic after the first time, when the board knew full well what the issues were.
Like I said, I don’t think the Hibs board is that daft.