If Lennon Isn’t In Line For The Aberdeen Job, The Former Celtic Boss Should Stay A Pundit.

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Aberdeen will name their next manager in the next day or two, or so the rumour factory says. The leading candidate is from the North of Ireland. He’s experienced. He is a title winning boss. He has managed in England. The pedigree seems on the nose. If he’s unveiled most people will think that it’s a pretty decent choice.

His name is Michael O’Neill.

There was, of course, another title winning boss from the North of Ireland interested in the job, and he’s a trophy winner in two countries, he’s managed two clubs in Scotland he’s got experience of managing in the biggest club competition in the world.

His name, of course, is Neil Lennon and when Aberdeen fans were asked, in the aftermath of the Warnock resignation, about the prospect of Lennon getting it they were overwhelmingly positive.

I saw the logic, the undeniable logic, of appointing Lennon. Aberdeen needs a guy with that passion and self-belief. Their club would benefit from that.

Look, I don’t rate Lennon as being out of the managerial top drawer and I’ve said so.

Our board thought he was the man to run our massive footballing operation. Whenever I’ve criticised that I’ve gotten stick. But the football world agrees with me and not them. He is not highly rated outside Celtic Park.

I think he’s a better manager than Michael O’Neill. He’s been out of the game as long as Lennon has; he briefly did wonderful things at the North of Ireland international team but his club career outside of his native Ireland isn’t anywhere near as impressive as Lennon’s.

I don’t believe Lennon is good enough to manage at the level he thinks he is, but if Aberdeen prefer O’Neill to him then I think he’s essentially done. I would think that would be it.

The Aberdeen job was perfect for him.

There are qualities to Lennon beyond just what he can do in the dugout, and those qualities would have been perfect for Aberdeen. And although I don’t think Lennon is top drawer, he is a decent enough coach, as his record proves.

Lennon would have gotten them playing attacking football. Lennon would have returned the swagger to the whole club. He would have been a powerful presence in the media.

The fans would have loved it, and although we saw at Hibs how swiftly he can self-detonate I also think that even if that happened that he’d leave Aberdeen in a much better place than they are in right now. A much better place. I don’t see O’Neill as particular charismatic or exciting to watch.

That appointment would be “safe.” A bit like Jim Goodwin.

That turned out well, didn’t it?

A dull choice. An uninspired choice. I think the idea of the “box office” manager is over-rated, and the Scottish football version of it is manifestly ludicrous considering that some of the gibbering fan-boys in the media thought the label applied to Warnock himself, but Lennon’s appointment would have guaranteed a roller-coaster ride and that’s real box office.

For Aberdeen, I think an opportunity has been missed. For Lennon it’s worse than that. He has already lost out on the Republic of Ireland job, which I think was a match made in Heaven for him, and that he’s now lost out on the Aberdeen one must be gutting. Lennon at least has a career, and it’s something that he’s brilliant at … punditry.

He reminds me more and more of another manager who had been in Glasgow and got to manage his favourite club; Ally McCoist. He too was not rated outside of his boyhood heroes; unlike Lennon he never actually did get a managerial gig somewhere else, although he talked about it for a long, long time and made it clear that he sought a return to the dugout.

At what point did McCoist realise that wasn’t going to happen? I don’t know, but I wrote on the day that he was fired from Ibrox that he would never coach at a top flight club, anywhere, again, that his management career was effectively done and so it proved.

Some people get over-promoted in one field and have to find their niche in another … Lennon, like McCoist, belongs in the commentary box. He excels there. It’s his perfect place.

It must be tough for Lennon to be rejected for jobs again and again. At some point he should stop pushing against the brick wall. He will be better off for it.

I know he believes he’ll return to a management role one day and he might even be right, but the longer he is away from it the tougher it will be to return to the level he desires to coach at.

Would he really be satisfied starting from the bottom? Does he think that’s an appropriate level for a man who has coached in the Champions League and won a domestic treble?

What if he ends up at some lower league club and it goes wrong? It doesn’t even necessarily have to be his fault; any manager can be undone at the wrong team. Bad owners. An unsettled or unhappy dressing room. Someone coming into that might not stand a chance.

And if that happens to him, what then? The rest of football will pay him even less attention than it does now, and before long it’s a case of diminishing returns. In the commentary booth he has respect and a steady income. He gets to demonstrate his knowledge of the game without the attendant risks of having to prove yourself in a cut-throat environment.

He wants the test. He wants to be in the heat of battle. I respect that, obviously. Not for Lennon the soft, safe seat but the one right down there on the touchline. I admire that drive and I understand the ambition. But at some point, maybe he has to cut his losses, accept – as McCoist and the likes of Roy Keane eventually had to – that it’s just not going to happen and move on.

It would be better for him, I think, if he did.

It must be soul-destroying to believe in yourself that much and not have it validated by the sport. He’s not the first, nor will he be the last, but he has other skills. If it doesn’t happen for him here, it might be time to focus on them.

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  • Michael McCartney says:

    Lennon and Aberdeen would be a match made in heaven, no team would look forward to going to Pittodrie if he was there. I also think that Aberdeen would get a more mature and thoughtful Neil Lennon these days, Alas for the Aberdeen fans, it looks as if the Aberdeen Board are going for a guy who in my opinion is the ultra safe option and who is more suited to managing teams with limited ambition.
    I agree McCoist is a decent pundit and is the only ex Ibrox player who I can bear to listen too, Lennon may not have the cheeky chappie persona but is knowledgeable and calm in his punditry.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    He must be decent at the punditry as not many of his (Celtic) background gets a chance at it…

    In fact he DEFINITELY is good at it…

    How do I know this –

    Well they actually like and respect his punditry on Swallow Swallow (Follow Follow)…

    They make it clear that they hated him as a player – They make it clear that they hate his nationality – They make it clear that they detest his religion (yet 36,500 of them cheered to the rafters when Mo ‘Judas’ Johnstone scored for Celtic in what was a winner in the last minute at Liebrox) – Silly Billy peepil indeed they are –

    But they like him as a pundit…

    He must’ve somewhere given Sevco some sort of praise and that’s all the comfort blanket these simpleton Gullibilly’s need…

    Even with Lennon !!!

    • Effarr says:

      Maybe referring to the O!d £irm on a regular basis and talking up “PHILLIPE” has helped him. Another one who is getting too fond of the pea soup.

  • Captain Swing says:

    Jimmy Armfield took Leeds United to the European Cup Final (which they should have won) and never took another coaching job after he left Elland Road and was the most respected, elder statesmen of radio pundits and could probably walk down the street without being recognised or hassled… anyone else reckon Lennon would be better off doing the same? Then again, there’s the side of him that could start a fight in an empty hoose, as my granny used to say…..

  • Fun time frankie says:

    Sorry james I have to absolutely (sallys) favourite word disagree mc coists commentary absolutely does My tits in .

  • SSMPM says:

    It’s difficult to be sure if Lennon would (or even may still) do the business at Aberdeen. Much of that depends on the players that didn’t do much under their recent temp manager. I’d prefer to see Lennon there though.
    Lennon’s punditry can be good, fiery even but he’s not always consistent. Sutton’s the same, though I don’t know if it’s because he’s being influenced by his current paymasters as he’s definitely toned it dow n a bit. HH

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Don’t know how ye think lennon would have them playin ‘attacking’ football. The lennon teams ah watched, were by far mostly dull, side tae side and horrible tae watch. Never had a plan B either.

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