Aberdeen’s McInnes says Lennon is ‘a great fit’ for Celtic job

Celtic manager Neil Lennon.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon.

Derek McInnes believes Neil Lennon is a great fit for Celtic following Brendan Rodgers’ departure.

The Dons boss takes his team to Parkhead this afternoon, attempting to beat the Hoops in Lennon’s first home match of his spell as interim manager.

The Northern Irishman was appointed last month after Rodgers opted to leave Celtic after two-and-a-half years at the helm for Leicester City in the English Premier League.

Lennon was brought in as interim gaffer until the end of the season.

The appointment ended his short spell out of the game after leaving Hibs by mutual consent at the end of January.

The Northern Irishman played for Celtic from 2000-2007 and managed the club for four years until the summer of 2014.

During his first spell as Hoops boss Lennon won three league titles and two Scottish Cups and McInnes believes he is a shrewd appointment.

He said: “I think it’s a great fit for both just now.

“Celtic are fortunate that Neil was available and they had someone that could come in and fill the role.

“I think with so few games left in the season maybe bringing in a new manager who hasn’t been at the club may have complicated things.

“I think Neil will also see himself as fortunate because if he was still the Hibs manager he might not have got it.

“So it’s been a good thing for both parties I think because Neil is now back at a club which he has served so well as a player, coach and manager.

“I know how pleased he is and I’m pleased for him because we spoke a few weeks ago about how harsh it was losing his job at Hibs.

“Now you see the flip side where it has worked out well for him, back in a job where he has done well before.”

Lennon has had two matches in charge since returning to the Celtic hotseat.

The Hoops have won both, beating Hearts 2-1 at Tynecastle on February 27 before winning 2-0 at Easter Road last Saturday in the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup.

McInnes has already noticed some differences in the way Celtic play under Lennon compared with Rodgers.

He added: “I think there are little subtle changes, but it’s the same group of players.

“I think Neil deserves credit for the way he has come in and dealt with the urgency of the situation and dealing with the two games he’s had.

“Against Hearts and Hibs they have both been tough games and potentially very tricky.

“He has dealt with that well. On the pitch there are subtle changes between a Neil Lennon team and a Brendan Rodgers team, even though it’s the same group of players.

“It’s maybe not so much a slower build up and they maybe pass the ball forward more.

“Under Neil they maybe ask a question of you defensively a little bit quicker.

“Certainly they are playing with a lot of passion and probably epitomise their manager at the minute.”

The Dons are looking to set a new club record this afternoon at Parkhead by winning eight successive away games for the first time.

However, McInnes knows Aberdeen will be severely tested as they look to set a new milestone.

He said: “There is a resilience about our team when we play these big games. We have to be fully concentrating and Celtic are a good side.

“So although we have been very strong on the road, this game will really test us.

“It’s a game we always look forward to and it’s a game where we know what to expect.

“But the intention is to go there and get the result, as difficult as that is.

“We want to go there and try to continue our strong away form.”