Neil Lennon may have secured a new 12 month rolling contract, but he knows he has to win the Scottish League title with Celtic in the new season to safeguard his job as manager.
As the Bhoys prepare to depart for a pre-season tour to Australia, Lennon has outlined his own thoughts on the challenge ahead after losing out to Rangers last term.
“Three years without the title is a long time for us,” admitted Lennon. “So I think it is imperative that we do win it.
“From my own point of view, if you go two years as an Old Firm manager without a title, it might be very difficult to keep your job. But it will depend on what the season brings.
“We want to make inroads in Europe this season as well. We feel as if we have good natural talent and a good young team, and with a bit more experience in there we feel we can have a go at that as well.
“I don’t think there will be more pressure. The pressure of the job is always the same, win the league. If you can win a double or treble, brilliant, but to win the league is a must, really.
“I have had one go at it. The fans might get a bit fed up if we miss out on a second one. The expectation levels are going to be greater because of the progress that we made last year and that’s a credit to the players.”
Lennon will attempt to persuade defender Emilio Izaguirre and midfielder Beram Kayal to stay at Celtic despite links with a number of Premiership clubs in England.
Izaguirre has claimed that Manchester United have made an approach for him while Kayal has been linked with Liverpool and Valencia.
“We’ve opened preliminary talks with Kayal’s people,” said Lennon. “He knows I want to keep him and he’s making the right noises about staying. That’s great news. It’s the same for Izaguirre.
“Going to Australia on tour this week will give me the chance to sit down with Beram. I’ll need to sit down with Beram, look him in the eye and get a feel for what he’s thinking. He knows I have his best interests at heart.
“I can help them both progress. They have the supporters on their side and a great affiliation with them. They would struggle to get that at many other clubs.
“I’m sure there are Premiership clubs that could offer them better deals but at this stage of their careers money shouldn’t be that important.
“There is no need for them to rush off and go to the Premiership just yet. They can stay here a year or two and then look at things after that.
“My whole point to them will be that unless it’s a top four club in England then I don’t think there are many better places to be than here.”
Celtic have made a new bid for Newcastle goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who was on loan at Parkhead last season.
“We have made a bid for Fraser Forster. Newcastle have said that he is not for sale at the moment but we will pursue that avenue further if we can.
“I said that we needed a goalkeeper and we would like to bring in a center forward as well. So that’s two and we might be able to add further to the squad after that, I don’t know.
“But there won’t be wholesale changes. We are really happy with the majority of the squad and we only need to bring in one or two.”
Sligo Rovers threw the Airtricity League title race wide open with a 2-0 win over Shamrock Rovers at the Showgrounds on Friday night. St. Patrick’s Athletic are the new leaders thanks to their 1-0 win at home to Bray. Bohs beat Drogheda 2-0, Dundalk hammered Galway 6-1 and Derry were held to a 2-2 draw away to Derry...
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Cash strapped Galway United have put their entire first team squad up for sale.
Aidan O’Brien enjoyed a 1-2-3 in the Irish Derby on Sunday as Treasure Beach won the race with Carlton House, owned by the Queen of England, beaten into fourth place by Seville and Memphis Tennessee.
O’Brien won his sixth consecutive Irish Derby and said, “Treasure Beach has progressed with every run and he has a few options now. He could go for the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp, the King George at Ascot or else he could have a break before coming back for the second half of the season.
“We are very lucky in that his owners have decided to keep their horses in training as four-year-olds, and that gives us options with giving the three-year-olds breaks.”
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Wexford hammered Carlow in the Leinster SFC semifinal, on Sunday but manager Jason Ryan described their performance as “shocking.”
Ryan’s team now play Dublin in the provincial decider but the boss wasn’t happy.
“I’m just delighted to win but it wasn’t a great performance,” Ryan told the Irish Examiner.
“I thought we were shocking. It was fundamental stuff, just basic things like handling, passing it on too long and losing balls in the tackle. Our shot selection was also a little bit out.”
Veteran boss Mick O’Dwyer hailed his Wicklow team after their well deserved All-Ireland football qualifier win over Sligo in Aughrim on Saturday night.
“Since I came here, we haven’t been beaten in Aughrim in the championship. We have lost in the league but not in the championship, and, as you know, that’s the only thing that matters -- the championship,” declared O’Dwyer.
“I think it’s one of the best performances by a Wicklow team since I came here, because we were up against it all the way. Three points up against a strong wind in the second half, I thought wouldn’t be enough.
“The midfield played very well. Both of them were terrible against Kildare the last day. Our team in general didn’t perform the last day, but that’s part and parcel of football.”
Down just about escaped Ennis with their championship ambitions intact after a close run thing against Clare in the All-Ireland football qualifiers on Saturday.
Reds boss James McCartan was left puzzled by his team’s performance less than a year after they reached the 2010 All-Ireland final.
“What we’ll take away from this game is the result and nothing else. Our boys thought they were just going to try and go for goals and we really almost rued that,” said McCartan.
“Fair play to Clare, they dug deep for the last 15 minutes of the first half and the last 15 of the second.
“We started both halves pretty brightly and then whenever it starts to unravel a wee bit you’re scratching your head. But obviously we’ll be looking at ourselves closely over the next few days.
“We’d obviously be disappointed in the way we went out of the game for long periods at the end of both halves.”
Kildare will travel to local rivals Laois and Meath will entertain Galway in the pick of the second round games in the All-Ireland football qualifiers.
London’s reward for their win over Fermanagh is a home tie with Waterford. Tyrone travel to Longford and Down host Leitrim.
The full draw for games to be played on Saturday, July 9 is Limerick vs. Offaly; Down vs. Leitrim; Laois vs. Kildare; Longford vs. Tyrone; Armagh vs. Wicklow; Meath vs. Galway; Antrim vs. Carlow; London vs. Waterford.
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