GLASGOW: Scotland manager Steve Clarke is favourite to be Celtic’s choice in place of Neil Lennon who left with the champions trailing Old Firm rivals Rangers by 18 points.

Lennon took charge for a second spell in February 2019 when Brendan Rodgers left and led the club to two titles, two Scottish Cups and a League Cup. However, Celtic are failing  in their bid to win 10 successive titles after slumping to defeat at struggling Ross County on Sunday.

Assistant manager John Kennedy will take interim charge of the team.

Clarke could share the Celtic job with his Scotland role until the Euro 2020 finals in June. Other out-of-work names in the frame have included Rafa Benitez, Frank Lampard and Eddie Howe.

Lennon said: “We have experienced a difficult season due to so many factors and it is very frustrating and disappointing that we have not been able to hit the same heights as we did previously.

“I have worked as hard as ever to try and turn things around, but unfortunately we have not managed to get the kind of run going that we have needed.

“I have always given my best to the club and have been proud to deliver silverware to the Celtic supporters. The club will always be part of me. I will always be a Celtic supporter myself and I will always want the best for Celtic.”

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell:¬†“Neil has always been and will always be a true Celtic man and someone I will always hold in the highest regard. Personally, it is a sad day for me to see Neil leave. Neil is a man of quality and decency, he is someone who will always be part of the fabric of Celtic and someone who will always be welcomed.”

Lennon delivered the unprecedented quadruple treble but his exit is no surprise.
He answered Celtic’s call in early 2019, when Rodgers departed mid-season for Leicester City, and guided the club to their eighth league crown in a row while securing a third-straight Scottish Cup.

After Celtic beat Hearts in the final, he was offered the job on a permanent basis by Lawwell in the Hampden showers.

Last season ended early amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Celtic handsomely ahead of Rangers and crowned champions, having also defeated their rivals in the League Cup showpiece.

But this term, as the club pursued an unprecedented 10th league title in succession, things unravelled spectacularly.

Celtic were eliminated from the second round of Champions League qualifiers at home by Ferencvaros, and won just one of their six Europa League group games.

Although they won nine of their opening 10 league fixtures, they lost the first two Old Firm derbies of the term, and dropped points to Aberdeen, Hibernian, St Johnstone and Livingston.

Their incredible run of 35 domestic cup wins was ended by Ross County, who prevailed 2-0 at Celtic Park in the League Cup last 16. That led to fan protests and clashes with police outside the stadium.

Lennon oversaw more Scottish Cup success in December, as Celtic won the 2019-20 trophy on penalties despite losing a 2-0 lead against Hearts, ensuring the Northern Irishman became the first man to win a treble as player and manager, and sealed a Scottish-first quadruple treble.

But the glory was short-lived. Celtic lost at home to St Mirren in January, and despite holding games in hand, remained well shy of Rangers, who are yet to lose a league match this season.

Sunday’s 1-0 loss to County, who were bottom of the table heading into the fixture, sealed Lennon’s fate, with Rangers on the brink of ending their domestic supremacy.