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No Celtic return for Martin O'Neill, says Paul Lambert

Martin O'Neill and Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini
O'Neill has been been linked with Man City, now managed by Roberto Mancini

Paul Lambert does not see Martin O'Neill's surprise exit from Aston Villa resulting in a return to Celtic for his former manager.

Celtic's board were keen to appoint a mentor to assist Neil Lennon when he was appointed as manager this summer.

"I don't think he would go down the road of a director of football and look over Lenny's shoulder," Norwich City boss Lambert told BBC Scotland.

"I think he would want Lenny to do it himself anyway."

Celtic's attempt to appoint Finland coach Stuart Baxter as a part-time advisor to Lennon was thwarted by his present employers.

I don't know the reasons why he left, but it must have been pretty significant for him to go

Norwich manager Paul Lambert

Lennon, like Lambert, has admitted to calling O'Neill for advice since making the move into coaching.

And O'Neill, when asked by BBC Scotland earlier this summer if he would ever return to Celtic Park, said he would never rule anything out in football and that he enjoyed his time at a "fantastic" club.

But Lambert, who played under O'Neill at Celtic Park, did not think the time was right for the Northern Irishman to go back to the club he led for five years.

"If I was betting man, which I am not, I would be really surprised to see him going back there even though he loved his time there," said the former Scotland midfielder was himself linked with the Celtic job after leading Norwich to the League One title.

"I can't see it, plus Neil Lennon is in the job, people forget that, and hopefully Lenny does a great job there."

Despite his own close relationship with O'Neill, Lambert, who is among those already being touted for the Villa Park job, could shed no light on what led to Monday's announcement.

"I think the gaffer's one of the best I have worked under, so I am sure he will have the right reasons for why he has left," he said.

"What he has done for Aston Villa, he has been absolutely terrific for them. They have just missed out on the top four and they've nearly won some cups.

Paul Lambert with the League One trophy
Lambert led Norwich to the League One title last season

"I don't know the reasons why he left, but it must have been pretty significant for him to go."

Villa owner Randy Lerner this summer placed a cap on transfer spending and O'Neill looked likely to miss out on Celtic winger Aiden McGeady, who is poised to join Spartak Moscow, while the manager has long been resigned to losing James Milner to Manchester City.

Lambert agreed that a lack of funds to improve the team and challenge for a higher placing in England's top flight could have been a factor.

"European football, and especially the Champions League, is what everyone wants to get into and I am pretty sure the gaffer would be the same," he said.

"I think what he does brilliantly is he runs the club and he's the one that makes the big decisions.

"If it does not go his way then people know about it. But, as a man manager, he was brilliant for me."



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see also
O'Neill quits as Aston Villa boss
09 Aug 10 |  Aston Villa
McGeady completes Moscow switch
13 Aug 10 |  Celtic
O'Neill resigned to losing Milner
06 Aug 10 |  Premier League


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