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Coming back Martin O'Neill installed as favourite to take over at Celtic as Neil Lennon hits out at fan protests

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Martin O’Neill

Martin O’Neill

Martin O’Neill

Martin O'Neill has been installed as the bookies favourite to take over as Celtic manager, if the pressure mounting around Neil Lennon finally ends with his exit from the club.

Lennon has been backed by the Celtic board despite a string of poor results, with the club's hopes of securing a tenth Scottish Premiership title in a row slipping away.

Now former Celtic and Republic of Ireland manager O'Neill has been backed as the man who could replace Lennon, with reports in Scotland suggesting he could revive his coaching partnership with ex-Celtic midfielder Roy Keane.

Ex-Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has also been linked with the Celtic job, while Keane is listed as a 14/1 shot to be offered the role himself.

For now, Lennon remains in place and he has accused sections of the Celtic support of engaging in "dangerous rhetoric" after a 'shoot the board' banner was hung outside Parkhead.

The manager and Hoops chiefs Dermot Desmond and Peter Lawwell have faced increasingly angry protests after a wretched run of two wins in their last 12 games.

Club bosses have reacted to the demonstrations by erecting a ring of steel around the stadium – but the Celtic faithful have used the iron fences as a gallery to display a string of banners calling for Lennon and the board to go.

The Northern Irishman insists he understands supporters’ fury after seeing huge cracks appear in their 10-in-a-row dreams, but he hit back at those responsible for the sinister poster that was hung up on Tuesday night.

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon before the UEFA Europa League Group H match at The San Siro Stadium, Milan. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 3, 2020. See PA story SOCCER Milan. Photo credit should read: Fabrizio Carabelli/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon before the UEFA Europa League Group H match at The San Siro Stadium, Milan. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 3, 2020. See PA story SOCCER Milan. Photo credit should read: Fabrizio Carabelli/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon before the UEFA Europa League Group H match at The San Siro Stadium, Milan. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 3, 2020. See PA story SOCCER Milan. Photo credit should read: Fabrizio Carabelli/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

"From some sections of the support… it is dangerous rhetoric," Lennon said. "What I will say is we all want the same thing. Those fans want success, the majority of our fans want success. The players and everybody here want the same thing.

"We don’t want any divisions. I understand the frustrations and the players are feeling that as well.

"But we don’t like that kind of language or expression anywhere near the football stadium. It serves no purpose really.

"It doesn’t serve any purpose. It certainly doesn't inspire anyone at the club to achieve great things.

"We all want unity. We have got that certainly from the football side of things and we just want the supporters to get behind the team, especially when they need it.

"That's what the Celtic fans do. They've done that for as long as I’ve been here. When things have got tough they've got right behind the team and that’s what we’re looking for."

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