Candidates to replace Neil Lennon as Celtic manager – ranked

After just 19 wins in 30 games in the Scottish Premier League this season, Neil Lennon has called time on his second spell in charge of Celtic by resigning from his position as manager.

John Kennedy has been placed in charge until the end of the season, with little pressure on him considering they are 28 points behind Rangers in the race for the title. All eyes are on next season now and a list of potential candidates for the role now needs to be assessed.

So who is the best man for the job? Who’s got the best chance of getting it? Let’s assess the club’s best options.

Roberto Martinez is a shock name under consideration for the jobRoberto Martinez is a shock name under consideration for the job
Roberto Martinez is a shock name under consideration for the job | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

The former Wigan man is the shock name in contention for the job and is currently third favourite according to the bookies.

Currently in charge of the Belgian national team, it would be odd to see him return to club management with Celtic after being linked with clubs like Chelsea and Barcelona in the past.

With Euro 2020 coming up this summer it seems like a pipe dream for the Bhoys.

Could Roy Keane be ready to return to management?Could Roy Keane be ready to return to management?
Could Roy Keane be ready to return to management? | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Former player Roy Keane hasn’t worked as a manager since 2011 when he was in charge of Ipswich Town, but he has been in the game as recently as 2019.

He was the assistant manager with Celtic legend Martin O’Neill for the Irish national team before taking the same role at Nottingham Forest before leaving in June 2019.

A return to management has never been ruled out by the now fan-favourite TV pundit, but walking straight back in at this level after so long away seems unlikely.

Rafa Benitez is a free agent and could be a targetRafa Benitez is a free agent and could be a target
Rafa Benitez is a free agent and could be a target | Alex Broadway/Getty Images

After leaving Newcastle United and going to China, Rafa Benitez left his manager role with Dalian Pro in January, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason.

Regarded as one of the top best managers in the world at one point, Benitez would bring a wealth of experience and a winning mentality to the club.

The likelihood of Celtic attracting him is unlikely though, with a return to Spain or England more likely.

FBL-ENG-PR-LEICESTER-CHELSEAFBL-ENG-PR-LEICESTER-CHELSEA
Frank Lampard was recently sacked by Chelsea | MICHAEL REGAN/Getty Images

Their career as players were defined by the comparisons against each other, so why not rekindle it at managerial level?

After being sacked by Chelsea in January, Frank Lampard could look to get back on the horse with Celtic and go head to head with Steven Gerrard once again. Reports suggest that the club would be interested in making it happen, but it’s hard to know if Lampard feels the same way as he may be keen to get another job in the Premier League.

Eddie Howe is due a return to management and would be a breath of fresh airEddie Howe is due a return to management and would be a breath of fresh air
Eddie Howe is due a return to management and would be a breath of fresh air | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Ever since his brilliant spell at Bournemouth came to an end with relegation back to the Championship, Eddie Howe has consistently been linked with the Celtic job.

The 43-year-old would likely be a big hit and could use the club to get himself some trophies and re-build his reputation after a short spell away from the game.

He’ll certainly be among the top candidates for the role.

Steve Clarke could make a return to club managementSteve Clarke could make a return to club management
Steve Clarke could make a return to club management | Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

The current Scotland national team manager has made no secret that he wants to return to club management at some point, so why not with one of the Old Firm sides?

He’s taken the national team to Euro 2020 and that will likely be the pinnacle of his time in the role, so leaving on top is always a good thing. He would walk into Celtic with confidence and a style of play fans will be accustomed to. Win, win.

John KennedyJohn Kennedy
Kennedy is the front runner for the job | Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Neil Lennon’s assistant has taken temporary charge of the club until the end of the season, and that essentially means he has an audition for the permanent role.

If he can put together a decent end to the campaign for the green and white hoops he will put himself in prime position to land the role. He’s already aware of the squad’s capabilities and will likely have an idea of which players have a role to play and which should be moved on.

The job is in his hands right now and is his to lose, so he’s the top candidate as it stands.

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