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HARTSON’S PLEA TO CELTIC BOSSES

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JOHN HARTSON has urged the Celtic board to give his former team-mate Neil Lennon the manager’s job – NOW!

The Irishman has guided the team through two dangerous Scottish Cup-ties against Hibs at Easter Road and Aberdeen at Hampden since taking over from Brendan Rodgers in February.

Lennon will lead out the players at the national stadium on May 25 when they defend their trophy against Hearts in the season’s grand finale.

The Hoops will have the opportunity to achieve history that is unlikely ever to be matched – the unprecedented treble treble, all nine domestic honours in three phenomenal years.

The eighth successive crown is on its way with the title kings only five points away from making certain the flag is flying again in the east end of Glasgow.

Lennon is unbeaten in eight games since returning, but his position at the club is still unclear with a posse of names being put forward as possibles to get the role on a full-time basis, including Roberto Martinez, Andre Villas-Boas, Rafa Benitez and Michel O’Neill.

Hartson believes it is time the Parkhead powerbrokers called a halt to the speculation and handed the interim boss a contract immediately.

HAMPDEN TALK-IN…Neil Lennon and Peter Lawwell have a chat before Sunday’s cottish Cup semi-final.

The ex-Welsh international striker, speaking to the Evening Times, said: “I meet Celtic fans regularly when I’m out and about and they ask me what I think about the manager’s position.

“When I ask them what they think, the answer I usually get is that they aren’t happy with Neil’s brand of football and the fact they have drawn a few games.

“All I would say, though, is that you have to remember Celtic weren’t really playing flowing, attractive football for a good few weeks before Neil came in, so I don’t think you can lay that at his door.

“Sunday was a real positive performance, right from the word go. He is starting to put his own stamp on the team.

“I think that the league will be wrapped up very soon, so in an ideal world, Neil would be looking to get some clarity now in order to get things moving for next season.

“It is so key that Neil can get o the phone to managers of other clubs like PSG or West Brom when it comes to discussing the future of the likes of Timothy Weah and Oliver Burke, or cracking on with bringing in a freshness of his own.

“It’s a strange old situation at the minute and the support is divided over it, but, in all fairness to Neil, he has conducted himself so well through it all.

“He looks calmer, he’s not waving his arms about and screaming and hollering at referees as he might do 10 years ago.

“He has made mistakes as a young manager, but he seems to have learned from them. He’s passionate and you don’t want to take that away from him.

“The club know Neil, they know what he brings. He’s not a stranger to the club or the board.

“I don’t think Celtic can leave the decision until after the Scottish Cup Final. The call should be made now.

“There has to be some clarity, for both Neil and the club, to move forward, and I think he has shown he is more than up to the job.”

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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