NEIL LENNON departed Celtic exactly TWO years ago today as the champions’ dream of an unprecedented tenth successive title headed for wretched failure.
It was all over for the under-pressure manager on a fateful day, only 48 hours after an excruciating and inexplicable 1-0 loss to relegation-threatened Ross County in Dingwall.
It proved a defeat too far for the Hoops hierarchy as they witnessed the historic quest for football’s Holy Grail buried under a landslide of humiliating results as the team stumbled through the rubble of a shambolic campaign.
The flop in the Highlands was the team’s fourth Premiership reverse, previously losing to Steven Gerrard’s side home and away – 2-0 at Parkhead and 1-0 at Ibrox – while St Mirren also triumphed 2-1 in the east end of Glasgow.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE AGONY…Neil Lennon can’t bear to look as Celtic toil towards the exit against Ferencavros.
There had also been an embarrassing 14 points lost in seven dismal draws against Kilmarnock (1-1), Aberdeen (3-3), Hibs (2-2 and 1-1)), St Johnstone (1-1) and Livingston (0-0 and 2-2). The defending champions were 18 points off the pace at the top with only eight games to play when time was finally called on the manager.
Before the turn of the year, Celtic had already been dismissed from three competitions – the Champions League, the Europa League and the Betfred League Cup, again beaten by Ross County, this time in Glasgow which sparked unruly scenes in the stadium car park afterwards.
A season that had promised so much went downhill at a breathtaking plunging pace with the team being banished from Europe’s elite competition by unseeded and unfancied Ferencvaros, the Hungarians winning 2-1 at Parkhead on August 26 in only the club’s fifth competitive outing.
Since receiving his P45 this time two years ago following an announcement on the London Stock Exchange when it opened for business at 8am, Lennon, who won three successive titles at the club before leaving in 2014 to be replaced by Ronny Deila, has been unemployed for 17 months out of the 24 as he has struggled to get a settled position elsewhere.
HEADING FOR THE EXIT…a disconsolate Neil Lennon trudges off the Dingwall pitch after taking charge of Celtic for the final time in the 1-0 loss to Ross County on February 21 2021.
The only hiatus came in the unlikely setting of Cyprus when the Northern Irishman took over Omonia Nicosia, but his ill-fated seven-month stay was brought to an abrupt halt when he was sacked in October last year.
Lennon had a two-year stint at troubled Bolton before coming back to Scotland with Hibs in 2016.
He was back in the Parkhead dug-out in February 2019 following Brendan Rodgers’ swift departure to Leicester City.
Two years later in the midst of turmoil as the season nosedived towards oblivion, the one-time Northern Ireland international captain made a final exit from Celtic.
Two years down the line, Lennon, at the age of 51, finds himself in exactly the same position – out of work and looking for a way back into the game.
We wish him well.