Johan Mjallby says Celtic would be taking the safer bet by giving Neil Lennon the Parkhead job full-time.
Roberto Martinez and Andre Villas-Boas have leapt to the top of the bookmakers odds to become Brendan Rodgers’ permanent replacement in recent days and Mjallby is happy to admit neither would be a major gamble for chief executive Peter Lawwell.
However, with the Hoops faithful desperate to realise their 10-in-a-row dream, Mjallby – who spent four years assisting Lennon during his first stint in the Celtic dugout – knows where he would put his money.
And so long as Lennon does not let this season’s treble treble target slip through his fingers against Aberdeen in Sunday’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final, the former Parkhead defender believes his old team-mate is worth another punt.
“I’m quite sure the board are contemplating other names – that’s normal,” said the Swede.
“Neil will definitely be in the running if they finish the season on a high and can secure another treble, which would be unbelievable. A triple treble, it’s unheard of.
“I’ve obviously been following Celtic closely and know there are a couple of names being thrown about too, however.
“Neil is probably the safer bet, yes, but it depends on how the outlook is from the board.
“They are obviously aiming to keep winning league trophies, because that’s their bread and butter.
“But they also have Europe to think about and will be looking to crack that nut as that was probably the only disappointment of Brendan’s reign.
“It wouldn’t be a gamble to appoint someone else, but it would depend on the name of the manager coming in. It would come down to ensuring that whoever gets the job is really supported to make sure they can get the right players in.
“I’m biased because I know Neil and loved working with him. I know how passionate he is for Celtic. If he was to get the job, he would probably play a little bit different to the way the team played under Brendan but that’s natural.
“Even if Roberto Martinez, Andre Villas-Boas, Rafa Benitez or Davie Moyes got it, they have all got their own style they want the team to play so it’s important they get the support from the board to get the right players so they keep progressing and improving.”
The fact Martinez and Villas-Boas have emerged as contenders this week suggests Lennon’s prospects are not as certain as some would assume.
And if the former Bolton and Hibernian boss does have to pack up in the summer, Mjallby is convinced it will not be the last time he is seen in the dugout.
“There is definitely some pressure on his shoulders but he enjoys that,” Mjallby added. “He knew he would be seen as a failure if he doesn’t secure the treble but coming back with the chance to become permanent manager was very important for him.
“For him to get the job, he probably needs to win the two trophies that are left. They have a very good chance league wise with an 11-point lead. Now they have the semi-final on Sunday.
“If he were to win the treble and did not get the job, that would hurt him – but he’s a professional, he’s got a lot of experience and he can handle himself.
“If he doesn’t get the job he will be disappointed but his hunger for success will be even higher so his next job, if it’s not Celtic, will see him go in all guns blazing to really make his name again.
– Johan Mjallby was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.
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