Neil Lennon sensationally walked away from Scottish Premier League champions Celtic on Thursday, as the Northern Irishman seeks a fresh challenge.
Lennon, 42, has won five trophies in four seasons in charge of the Glasgow giants and has guided the Hoops on several successful forays in the UEFA Champions League. In a statement to the BBC Lennon’s agent Martin Reilly confirmed that Celtic’s former club captain wanted to turn over a new leaf and “to look ahead to the next chapter of his career.”
Celtic have won three-straight Scottish titles under Lennon but after uncertainty over the clubs financial budget the former Leicester City and Crewe Alexandra midfielder decided to stand down.
Premier League teams West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur are currently without a coach and Lennon has also been linked to the position at Norwich City who have just been relegated from the PL. Lennon is the 4/1 second favorite to become West Brom’s new manager.
Lennon had reportedly been considering his position for some time and this is what he had to say after stepping down.
“I have parted company with Celtic. I can’t thank (chief executive) Peter Lawwell and the board enough for their backing and support,” Lennon said. “The club are in a very strong position and I wish the fans and the club all the very best for the future.”
Lennon’s departure from Celtic will sadden many home fans who enjoyed watching him win trophies for seven seasons as Celtic Park.His fiery demeanor on the sideline meant the ginger-haired manager was a fans favorite, especially after his spat with Rangers manager Ally McCoist in 2011. Along the way the Celtic job came with plenty of pressure as Lennon was the subject of letter bombs addressed to him and his staff and in 2011 he was attacked by a Hearts fan.
In terms of Lennon’s successor Celtic legend Henrik Larsson, who is current boss of Swedish side Falkenbergs, is the early frontrunner. David Moyes, a former Celtic player, has also been linked with the now vacant position.
Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]
However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.
Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.
They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.
The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.
Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.
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Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.
The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.
[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]
Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0
Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.
[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]
Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw
Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.
[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]
Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.
Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.
Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.