CELTIC hero Stiliyan Petrov fears Neil Lennon is doomed to failure.

The former Hoops fans’ favourite witnessed his one-time team-mate lose the crucial encounter at Ibrox on Saturday and admitted “You don’t get accepted as second best” at Parkhead.

Under-pressure Lennon was backed by club supremo Dermot Desmond and chief executive Peter Lawwell – as CQN reported yesterday – but the Bulgarian legend reckons the acid test will come at the end of the season.

Petrov watched the action live at the weekend as a match analyst for Sky Sports and told the satellite giants: “You’re talking about being a manager of Celtic or Rangers and you can end up losing only two or three games, but you become second best.

“When you are a manager as one of these clubs it is a failure.

“Neil Lennon has lost only two games this season, but, unfortunately, you don’t get accepted as second best.”

The defeat in Govan – where Callum McGregor scored the only goal with a freak deflection – pushed the Parkhead men 19 points adrift in the championship race although they have three games in hand.

Lennon’s hopes of going Celtic to a historic tenth successive crown are now remote.

Petrov added: “Unfortunately, he is getting further away for it.”

It will be an almighty struggle to clinch the record-breaking flag in a disappointing season that has also seen the club relinquish their hold on the Betfred League Cup after a dismal 2-0 defeat from Ross County in November.

The Champions League qualifying quest ended abruptly with a 2-1 loss at home to unseeded Ferencvaros and the team could only manage one win in six Europa League group encounters while losing home and away to AC Milan and Sparta Prague.

There were angry calls for Lennon to be sacked by raging fans in unruly demonstrations outside Parkhead last month, but the Irishman was given a vote of confidence by the Hoops hierarchy who had promised a review of the manager’s position early in the new year.

Celtic are due back from their warm-weather training camp in Dubai on Friday and will go back into Premiership action against Hibs in the east end of Glasgow on Monday evening.

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