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Chris Sutton advises ex-Celtic team-mate Neil Lennon to step down despite Hoops boss’ defiance

Chris Sutton insists Neil Lennon should walk away from Celtic to salvage his Parkhead legacy.

Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Livingston left the champions 20 points behind Rangers and without a win in 2021, with hopes of ten in a row all but gone.

Due a £300,000 pay-off if Celtic sack him, a defiant Lennon has enraged supporters by insisting he won’t quit.

Celtic's 2-2 draw with Livingston left the champions 20 points behind arch-rivals Rangers

Celtic's 2-2 draw with Livingston left the champions 20 points behind arch-rivals Rangers

Celtic’s 2-2 draw with Livingston left the champions 20 points behind arch-rivals Rangers

A team-mate in the Celtic side which reached the 2003 UEFA Cup Final under Martin O’Neill, however, former England striker Sutton says he would walk away if he was in the same situation.

And, speaking on BT Sport’s Scottish Football Extra show, the Sportsmail columnist warned his friend he is putting his legacy on the line by clinging on.

‘You know, if I was in his situation I would walk away,’ said Sutton. ‘Neil is my friend. But Neil’s legacy at Celtic as a player and as a manager is that he has done great things for the club.

‘He was a big fans’ favourite and he had a connection with the fans because he never gave up on the pitch.

‘I can understand his thought process at the moment, because I still think there will be something in the bottom of his stomach where he feels he can turn this situation around. But the fact of the matter is that he doesn’t have any support. 

Lennon has won the Scottish Premiership five times in two separate spells as Celtic manager

Lennon has won the Scottish Premiership five times in two separate spells as Celtic manager

Lennon has won the Scottish Premiership five times in two separate spells as Celtic manager

‘And because of what he has achieved as a player and a manager at the club I don’t want in years to come for Neil Lennon to be remembered for being obstinate and awkward at this moment in time.

‘Some fans will see this period as one where Neil is damaging the club. So that’s what I wouldn’t like in years to come and, on that basis, if I was in his shoes I would actually walk away because of that.’

Lennon became the first man in Scottish football history to win a domestic treble as both player and manager just five weeks ago.

Celtic have yet to reveal the outcome of a review in to the club’s progress promised for the New Year, with a major restructuring of the club’s football operations planned for the summer.

Lennon also won the league title five times as a player at Celtic Park between 2001 and 2007

Lennon also won the league title five times as a player at Celtic Park between 2001 and 2007

Lennon also won the league title five times as a player at Celtic Park between 2001 and 2007

With no sign of major shareholder Dermot Desmond taking action just yet, Lennon said in midweek: ‘I won’t walk away, absolutely not. I’ve put too much into this. Too much of my life. And a month ago we won the treble.

‘We’ve lost two games in the league. Europe wasn’t good enough and we’re out of the league Cup. But we’re human beings and we haven’t played well for whatever reason.

‘We can analyse it to death. Maybe no fans has had an adverse effect, I don’t know. But they haven’t reached the levels of last season by any stretch of imagination. I haven’t changed my procedures, my philosophy hasn’t changed but for some reason too many haven’t reached anywhere near their levels.

‘If the club have to make a decision then they have to make a decision. You’re asking the wrong guy about my position.

Dermot Desmond (left) is not rumoured to be close to sacking Lennon despite recent results

Dermot Desmond (left) is not rumoured to be close to sacking Lennon despite recent results

Dermot Desmond (left) is not rumoured to be close to sacking Lennon despite recent results

‘I’m fed up answering it really. Everyone is interested in my job. You keep asking if I’m going to be here. I will be until I’m told otherwise.’

Celtic, meanwhile, have been linked with a move for Stoke winger Tom Ince.

The Parkhead club are in the market for a central defender and wide man in the current window.

Ince, 28, joined Stoke from Huddersfield Town for £10m in 2018 but is expected to leave the club in the current window having been in and out of the team at the bet365 Stadium this term. 

Source: Daily

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