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Lennon fit for Premier League, says Hartson

Celtic legend John Hartson said a win over Juventus in the Champions League would see Neil Lennon hunted by the Premier League’s top sides.

The Wales coach insisted, however, that it would have to be a special job for his former Celtic team-mate to be tempted south of the border.

Lennon made Europe sit up and take notice when he plotted Celtic’s remarkable victory over Barcelona in November on the way to qualifying from the group stages of Europe’s elite club competition.

His stocks have also risen on the domestic stage with a second successive SPL title virtually assured with a third of the season still to go – and Hartson believes Lennon could be the target of a manhunt from Premier League sides looking for an upgrade.

“Neil was thrown in at the deep end without any real managerial experience when he replaced Tony Mowbray. But he’s done a great job and he’s getting better all the time,” Hartson told Goal.com.

“The Premier League is a managerial merry-go-round and I’ve no doubt that Neil will be in demand. I’m sure he would have no problems taking charge of a Premier League club in England.

“Celtic fans won’t want to hear that because they don’t want him to go, but they will be reassured to know that Neil is very happy at the club and it would have to be something special for him to even consider leaving.”

Harston and Lennon were team-mates when Celtic tasted victory over Juventus in 2001 and Barcelona three years later, and the Celts boss is planning a rare player/manager double over two of Europe’s most decorated sides.

Hartson believes that Lennon’s success in this season’s Champions League group stages have proven his tactical nous.

“His achievements in the Champions League group stage showed he is tactically astute and it put a marker down.

“He didn’t have the millions that was spent by Barcelona, and the other teams in the group, Benfica and Spartak Moscow, but he got them well organised and they were very effective soaking up pressure and hitting on the break.

“Being the manager of Celtic brings with it real pressures, and that will stand him in good stead wherever he goes after Celtic.

“Martin O’Neill, his old boss at Celtic, used to say that you are never more than three or four bad results away from the sack because of the demands of the job, and that is a heavy weight on young shoulders.

“To be honest, I never really saw Neil as a future manager when we were team-mates, but then again, I used to travel to training at Celtic with Paul Lambert and I never saw it with Paul, either.”
Tue 12 February, 2013
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