The Candidates: #2 Neil Lennon

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Everton can confirm that David Moyes will leave the Club at the end of the season.

The Manager met Chairman Bill Kenwright early yesterday evening (Wednesday 8th May) and confirmed his desire to join Manchester United. [...]

His final two games as Everton Manager will be the remaining Premier League matches against West Ham United and Chelsea.

Everton officials will start the search for a replacement manager immediately.

Following David Moyes’ decision to end his 11-year tenure at Everton in order to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson as the new manager of Manchester United for the 2013/14 season, there is a vacancy for the top position at Goodison Park for the first time in over decade. This series of posts will take a look at the leading candidates for the job.

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At the time of writing, Neil Lennon is odds-on favourite to be the next manager of Everton. I for one, find this worrying, and it appears I’m not alone.

Toffeeweb is currently holding a poll asking fans who would be their preferred choice to take over the club next season. Swansea’s Michael Laudrup is the favourite by some distance, polling at 30%, though his agent has stated he has no intention of leaving the South Wales club, and having signed a new contract in March, he would almost certainly prove too expensive for Everton to pursue. Neil Lennon has just 1% of the vote.

Lennon is a divisive figure, loved and despised equally in Glasgow as one of the most provocative Old Firm managers in recent memory. Since taking charge in 2010, he has served multiple touchline bans, including one for his part in an altercation with Rangers manager Ally McCoist in 2011. Just last month he received a swell of negative press for loudly calling St Mirren captain Jim Goodwin a ‘fucking fanny’. Indeed, it is not currently known whether or not Lennon will be banned for Celtic’s Scottish Cup final with Hibernian at the end of the month. Such incidents point to a personality that might prove advantageous in the context of Celtic’s unique rivalry with Rangers, but that would likely not play well with Everton’s carefully cultivated image as ‘The People’s Club’ under David Moyes.

Troubling conduct aside though, it should be noted that Lennon has been a success as manager of Celtic. His three seasons at Parkhead have brought two Scottish league titles (admittedly aided by the demise of Rangers), a Scottish Cup, and progression to the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time in five years, securing a memorable victory over Barcelona in the process.

His dealings in the transfer market have been astute – the impressive Victor Wanyama and Emilio Izaguirre were both signed for around £1 million – and he has also made the acquisition of young players a priority. Wanyama is 21, and forward Tony Watt, who scored the winner against Barcelona, was signed as an 18 year old from Airdrie United for £80k. The average age of Celtic’s squad is just over 24.

In footballing terms then, Lennon presents a compelling case, although as the four, dire seasons under Walter Smith showed, success in Scotland does not necessarily translate south of the border. There is also the question of whether Lennon would accept the Everton post should it be offered to him. A move to the Premier League would bring a sizeable bump in salary, but with Rangers still languishing in the lower leagues, Lennon is effectively guaranteed more titles over the coming seasons, as well as consistent opportunities to compete in Europe, something that would likely be lacking should he swap Parkhead for Goodison.

Regardless of his feelings towards the job however, Lennon as manager of Everton, in my opinion, just doesn’t fit. For eleven years David Moyes has been more than a coach, he has been an ambassador for Everton, and he should be succeeded by someone who can continue to act with the dignity and class that the club’s supporters have come to expect. However amusing his potential Twitter spats with Liverpool fans might  be, Neil Lennon is not that man.

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