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Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon linked to Ipswich: Here’s how he got on in the EFL at Bolton

Could Ipswich appoint Neil Lennon?
Could Ipswich appoint Neil Lennon?

Ipswich Town’s next manager search has been pretty eventful so far.

We’ve seen numerous frontrunners, shock contenders, and familiar faces linked to the League One club since Paul Cook’s departure on Saturday night.

The latest is Neil Lennon, 50; the former Celtic manager who won five titles and five domestic cups across two spells, complete with a 70% win rate in each.

Lennon’s second Hoops tenure ended on a sour note after a combination of poor results, Rangers' rejuvenation under Steven Gerrard, and months of fan unrest which pretty much made his position untenable come February. He’s been out of work ever since, but recently revealed that he’s getting the urge to return to the touchline.

"I'm starting to get the feeling, the itch, to get back in. It's just a question of waiting to see what opportunities may arise. I'm excited about the future. - via Leicester Mercury.

Lennon is now reportedly on the shortlist for the Ipswich job, according to the Daily Record, and he’s believed to have been in touch with former Tractor Boys boss Paul Lambert.

Lennon also managed Hibernian, where he won the Scottish Championship title, then led to 4th in the SPL and into the Europa League, before returning to Celtic. While he doesn’t have any League One experience on his CV, he has managed in England before at Bolton.

The Northern Irishman was appointed back in October 2014 following the exit of Dougie Freedman. It was a surprise appointment considering that Lennon had previously been enjoying a successful spell at Celtic, where he’d lifted three league titles, two cups and led into the knockout stages of the Champions League following a stunning win over Barcelona.

In contrast, struggling Bolton were rooted to the bottom of the Championship after a return of one win from 11 games. 

"I've got a big job on my hands, but that's the challenge," he said at the time. "My objective is to put right the results that have gone against us recently and get them playing a style of football that will please the Bolton fans."

Lennon started with a win, then in December he added some star power to his ranks in Eidur Gudjohnsen and Emile Heskey. Bolton later took Liverpool to an FA Cup replay after a draw at Anfield, and at one point it looked as if a push for the play-offs could be on. They eventually finished 18th, 10 points clear of danger.

Lennon would no doubt have then had hopes of building on the foundations the following season, but the less said about the 2015/16 campaign the better.

It was a turbulent period for the club due to their severe financial troubles; Lennon lost a plethora of players in the summer and the club were later placed under a transfer embargo.

Results were simply woeful. Lennon claimed only four wins from 37 league games, which left the club 11 points adrift of safety at the time of his dismissal in March 2016. The club were relegated to League One the following month.

In total he won 18 of his 79 matches in all competitions, which equates to a 22.78% win rate.

“Some people couldn’t afford petrol money, couldn’t afford childcare,” Lennon’s since told The Guardian.

“We just gave that money to keep everyone together but it was very, very difficult. Some staff have been at the club for such a long time, they have dedicated lives to their job. Some of them had to walk away, which was a real shame.”

Frank Lampard is also being linked
Frank Lampard is also being linked

Lennon bounced back with Hibernian, and later Celtic, until everything fell apart last season. He now finds himself the new favourite in the betting for the Ipswich job, a market which has featured multiple leading contenders already this week.

Frank Lampard’s odds have today (Wednesday) been cut to 4/1 following a report from FootyInsider247.com which claims Ipswich have made an approach for the former Chelsea manager.

Marc Bircham (2/1) and Neil Harris (4/1) still feature, Liam Manning is priced at 8/1, whereas interim boss John McGreal has drifted to 12/1 following a 2-0 defeat to Charlton on Tuesday.

Ipswich (11th) are next in action on Saturday away to Wigan (4th) in League One, match odds below.

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