JOHN HARTSON has thrown his weight behind former team-mate Neil Lennon to get the Celtic manager’s job in a full-time capacity.
But the ex-Hoops goalscoring great also admits he is aware of “four or five” candidates who could take over the role.
Lennon stepped in on February to take charge in an interim capacity in the wake of Brendan Rodgers’ rapid departure to Leicester City.
The Irishman has piloted the team to within one point of their eighth successive title success and the team can complete an unprecedented treble treble if they overcome Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden on May 25.
However, there is still a split among the support over the subject of giving Lennon the role for a second time, despite an unbeaten 10-game run which has included three frustrating goalless draws in the league.
Hartson, speaking to the Evening Times, admitted: “I would like Neil to continue as manager, but there are other candidates out there.
“There are four or five that I won’t say, but, off the top of my head, I know they would come to Celtic and do a great job.
“Neil would also do a great job, it just comes down to whether he’d get the decision.All he can do is bring it all home in terms of the treble. Then he can go: ‘Don’t give this job to me at your peril’. I’ve done everything asked of me’.”
BALL BHOY…Neil Lennon keeps things moving.
The champions can claim the Premiership crown even if they just draw with Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Saturday, but Hartson realises there is still a division about the merits of his former captain.
He added: “The feeling I get is that the fans love Neil, he’s a legend, he started this off, he’s one of our own, but, I’m not too sure if I want him to be the one to take us on.
“There are names on their lips, some of the big managers. But all I would say from Lenny’s point of view, is that he should go and do the business, keep the team motivated and get over the line.
“Then he can say he’s excelled in the role by winning the league and the Cup.
“Okay, people will question the football not being great. We were poor here or poor there. But it’s not been great all season. We’ve ambled at times.
“The club was turned upside down when Brendan Rodgers decided to walk out. The club turned to one man. They had options, but they turned it Neil Lennon.
“Neil is unbeaten as a manager since he came back. There’s a feeling that the football hasn’t been the best as he’s drawn a couple of games and has needed a couple of last-minute winners. But I don’t think the football has been scintillating all season.
“I believe he has become a better manager with his time away from Celtic. He went to Hibs where he took them up first to around into the Premiership. In the first season there, he was excellent. He beat Celtic and also Rangers twice at Ibrox along with other really big games.
“He proved at Hibs by finishing in the top-six that he can manage outside of Celtic, where people you say you have the best players, all the best earners and all of the internationals.
“Neil had a few problems at Hibs this season which were well documented, but when Celtic went for him and needed him the most, he was there.”