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Page last updated at 18:40 GMT, Friday, 21 May 2010 19:40 UK

Martin O'Neill hails Celtic job done by Neil Lennon

O'Neill and Lennon enjoyed great success together at Celtic
O'Neill (left) and Lennon enjoyed great success together at Celtic

Martin O'Neill has been impressed by the managerial job done at Celtic by his former player Neil Lennon.

"He has steadied the ship there," said the Aston Villa boss, when asked about the impact made by the interim coach.

"Is Celtic unbelievably big for your first job as a manager? Yes, I think there is certainly an element of that.

"But if there is a person who would know the club inside out and could get players to play for him, I think that Neil would fit that."

Lennon, who was signed for Celtic by O'Neill in 2000, is anxious to stay on in the role of manager and hopes his 100% run of eight league victories can sway the club's board.

All Celtic have said on the matter is that they were formally launching their search for Tony Mowbray's successor immediately after the final game of the season.

The 38-year-old Lennon made more than 200 appearances for Celtic under O'Neill, then Gordon Strachan, and won five league titles, three Scottish Cups and two League Cups as a player in green and white.

Despite his coaching experience being limited to Celtic's under-19 side, Lennon was handed the task of leading the side when Mowbray was sacked in March.

Celtic finished the season without a trophy for the first time in seven years, with Lennon's third game in charge ending in a shock defeat to Ross County in the Scottish Cup.

Despite, that significant hiccup, O'Neill, who also managed Lennon at Leicester, was full of praise for his fellow Northern Irishman.

"I think he's done wonderfully well," O'Neill told BBC Scotland.

"He'd have been really disappointed with the Ross County result in the semi final - a game that Celtic would have been expected to win.

"But his league record is absolutely fantastic.

"The first thing people will say is that he is inexperienced and his answer will be 'how are you ever going to gain experience?'

"The only thing that he doesn't have is that experience, which, at times, you might need to be able to deal with everything there.

"Having said that, I think that you can't look too far into things, you can't try to pre-empt what's going to happen; just deal with it and have a gut instinct about these things and go with that gut instinct.

"I'm not in a position to give someone a job, but what I do think is that since he has taken over he's done very, very well indeed."

Given Lennon's rookie manager status, many expected O'Neill to be a crutch to lean on but the Villa manager joked that he was not going to be offering any counsel.

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He said: "I think that he won his first or second league game around about the time we were hammered at Stamford Bridge and he was asked if he would be looking for any advice from Martin O'Neill and he said 'I think he'll be looking for advice from me'.

"I have a bone to pick with him for that answer - but that's Lennon to a tee."

Meanwhile, Lennon is scheduled to join chief executive Peter Lawwell at a question and answer session with fans at Celtic Park on 27 May.

The event will be hosted by the Celtic Trust - who have expressed hope that Lennon's presence is an indication he will remain in charge next season.

A statement on the fans' group website read: "The announcement that Peter Lawwell and Neil Lennon are to respond to the Celtic Trust proposal and go on the road in a series of 'open meetings' with the fans is to be welcomed.

"It would seem strange in the extreme to organise the first of these meetings with Lennon in attendance and then appoint someone else."



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see also
McStay backing Lennon for Celtic
20 May 10 |  Celtic
Celtic say sorry for poor season
16 May 10 |  Celtic
Lennon future at Celtic unclear
09 May 10 |  Celtic
Lennon pleased with Celtic record
07 May 10 |  Celtic


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