Celtic captain Scott Brown has called on the club’s board to award manager Neil Lennon a long-term contract before Saturday’s FA Cup final against Motherwell at Hampden Park.
Lennon vowed to carry on as Celtic boss when he addressed the Parkhead fans after Sunday’s final league of the season, a 4-0 win over Motherwell that wasn’t enough to deny Rangers the title.
Currently working on a rolling contract, Lennon has vowed not to be driven out of the game and his job by the sectarian bigots who have subjected him to dreadful abuse this season.
Now Bhoys skipper Brown wants the Celtic board to hand Lennon a new deal before Saturday’s big game.
Brown said, “I think everyone within the squad wants the manager to stay on and continue the good work we’ve achieved this season.
“If we could head into the final knowing for certain he was our boss for next season and hopefully beyond it would be a huge bonus.
“He’s a terrific gaffer and the whole squad loves working for him. Obviously we didn’t manage to win the league back this year and we’re all hugely disappointed with that.
“But I think it would give the club a huge lift if the gaffer was handed an extension to his deal because it’s what we all want.”
Addressing the fans from the Parkhead pitch after the Motherwell win on Sunday, Lennon said, “This isn’t the end, this is the beginning.”
Later, at the post-match press conference, he added, “I think I was being presumptuous out on the pitch.
“But that’s what I want to do. I brought a lot of players here and they have been magnificent for me all season.
“I think we have a nucleus of a very good squad. But I am saying all this and I might not be here.
“I had a good chat with Mr. Dermot Desmond (majority shareholder) and the chairman (John Reid) and Peter (Lawwell, chief executive) just after the game and I am hopeful that I will be here next season.
“But they might not want me. The remit is to win the championship and we haven’t done that so that might be a stroke against me.
As for the league season just ended, Lennon added, “We are very disappointed. I don’t like finishing second at anything.
“Our priority was the championship but I’d like to congratulate Rangers. To win the league with 93 points takes some doing, it shows great consistency in the run-in.”
Lennon did admit that he has considered walking away at various points during a difficult season.
He said, “Once or twice but then I thought, ‘Why?’ Being a manager, wherever you are, is a very precious job.
“You are in the game because you love football, all managers are the same. They think they can make a difference, improve and progress, and that’s what I want to do here.
“I’m not happy that my personal safety was under threat at Tynecastle. Obviously that’s not an issue for myself or my club to deal with, that’s for other authorities and clubs to sort out.
“I am not here to hurt people or damage them, I am here to build a football team. I give answers to questions and some people take that the wrong way.”
As for those who claim Lennon has brought the trouble on himself, Lennon stated: “Astonishing. That’s one word.
“It tells me about those people who are saying these things. It tells me what their mindset is and what their views are. It’s not a slight on me, it’s a slight on them.”
Like Brown and Lennon, striker Gary Hooper wants to repay the Celtic fans for their incredible loyalty in recent weeks by beating Motherwell in Saturday’s Cup final.
Hooper was joined on the scoresheet by Paddy McCourt, Shaun Maloney and Georgios Samaras.
“We owe the cup to everyone who has supported the players, like the staff, but mainly the fans because they have been there all the way,” said Hooper.
“The fans have been brilliant. They were amazing, especially after the final whistle when we were walking around the pitch. The gaffer said that if fans were like that when they lost the title, then imagine what they would be like if we won it.”