JOHN HARTSON reckons it is “a shame” his former Celtic team-mate Neil Lennon’s time as manager of Hibs looks like having an unhappy ending.
The Irishman was suspended by the Easter Road club on Friday after an alleged training ground bust-up and missed the side’s comeback 3-1 win over St Mirren at Paisley at the weekend.
Academy coach Eddie May was put in charge of the players for the match, but he insisted afterwards he did not want to the role on a permanent basis.
Lennon and his long-time assistant gaffer Gary Parker now look to be heading out of the exit at the Edinburgh outfit with the club already linked with a shock move for ex-Scotland and Celtic manager Gordon Strachan, as Scotzine reported yesterday.
Hartson, who lined up alongside the former Northern Ireland international skipper during Martin O’Neill’s time as Hoops boss, said: “Whatever has happened at Hibs with Neil Lennon, it is such a shame that his time at the club looks to be ending in such an acrimonious way.
“The chief executive Leann Dempster has obviously thought that whatever has gone on merits Neil being suspended, and, without knowing the details myself, I can’t say anything about whether that is the case or not.
“What I will say, though, is that I think it is a crying shame for it all to come to an end like this, because he was doing and has done a great job at Easter Road.
“It obviously depends on what has been said, but normally managers and players know that there is a line that cannot be crossed, especially nowadays. If you cross that line, then you are in deep trouble.”
Hartson, now a media pundit, continued: “In Neil’s defence, though, what he used to say to me in training or on the pitch was nobody’s business. Neil would often dig me out for giving the ball away or missing a chance, and that would just be in training.
“I didn’t care less, because as soon as he gave the ball away I’d be right back onto him.
“Now, I don’t know what has been said to Florian Kamberi if the reports of what has happened are accurate, and I don’t want to be seen to be backing Neil blindly, if it comes out that what he has said or done is indefensible.
HIB HIB HOORAY…Florian Kamberi scores the second goal in the 2-0 win over Celtic last month. Pic: Geo.
The only people who know for sure are those who were in the dressing room, but Neil fully knows that there is a line you can’t cross and if he has, he will probably take it on the chin.”
The former Welsh international striker added: “Hibs have had a dodgy couple of months on the field, but I hope that run and this situation doesn’t overshadow all of the good work he has done at the club.
“Don’t forget, he lost two of his best players in the summer in Dylan McGeouch and John McGinn and if you take the best players out of any team then you are going to suffer.
“If anything, Neil has made a rod for his own back, because he has become a victim of his own success. He got Hibs up straight away from the Championship and then had a wonderful season with results against both Celtic and Rangers and a fourth-placed finish.
“Tactically, he is excellent and I just think the whole situation is sad, because Hibs have lost a really, really good manager. He is so intelligent, and he is very passionate.
“The man is a winner and sometimes that can spill over. He’s a friend of mine, so obviously I’m biased, but I see the good in him and I have no doubt he will bounce back from this.
“Alas, that may not be at Hibs and that is a real shame for both parties.”