Celtic boss Neil Lennon: I want new contract on merit – not out of sympathy

NEIL LENNON last night urged his Celtic bosses: Give me the job on merit and not out of sympathy.

Lennon spoke out after the Hoops mauled Motherwell 4-0 but still failed to land the title.

The Ulsterman has been subjected to a vicious vendetta that has seen him sent a bomb and bullets as well as being attacked by a crazed Hearts fan.

But for the first time Lennon – whose current contract runs out after Saturday’s Scottish Cup Final – has publicly insisted he is desperate to lead the Hoops next season.

But he swore he doesn’t want it just because Dermot Desmond and Peter Lawwell feel sorry for him.

Lennon said: “There have been no contract talks with the board and no indication that any are planned.

“However, I did have a good chat with Mr Dermot Desmond, chairman John Reid and Peter just after the game and I am hopeful 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.

“But I want to get a deal because I’m the right person for the job. I don’t want a contract extension out of sympathy.

“If they were to give me a contract then I want it because they think I am the right person to take the club forward and bring success here.”

Asked if he had ever thought about quitting in the face of the hate campaign, Lennon 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.”

Earlier on the pitch after the final whistle, Lennon had made an emotional address to the fans.

And he pointed the finger at the Scottish game for the trials he has faced.

Lennon said: “I think a lot of people in the game here need to have a good look at themselves in the mirror.”

Later when asked to whom he was referring, Lennon said: “I was having a go at people who take a lot out of the game and don’t put too much back into it.”

The Celts manager received rapturous applause from the fans when he declared: “This isn’t the end – this is the beginning.”

That beginning starts as he prepares his side for Saturday’s Cup Final against Motherwell.

But first there was his take on the lost title and 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.

“However, we are obliged to bring silverware to the club.

“It has been an emotional week for a lot of people and it would be fitting for the players to finish the season with something in the trophy cabinet.

“I think they deserve to win the Cup and the supporters deserve it.”