The Athletic has confirmed that Celtic tried to replace Neil Lennon with former Nottingham Forest boss Martin O’Neill back in the autumn.

The Hoops dismissed their manager earlier this week, with the club 18 points behind Rangers in the Scottish Premiership.

O’Neill spent five years at Celtic Park after taking charge in June 2000, enjoying plenty of success.

He oversaw 282 games at Parkhead and finished with a 75.5% win ratio, winning three league titles and reached a UEFA Cup Final.

Nottingham Forest v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet Championship
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Appointing him would have been a surprise though.

Despite his record as a Celtic manager, he didn’t cover himself in glory at the City Ground.

He took charge of 19 games after replacing Aitor Karanka in January 2019 and won just eight of them.

Three games were drawn and a further eight were lost, giving him a win ratio of 42.1%.

Celtic are a progressive club and after parting with Lennon they need someone who can revive their fortunes.


The Hoops need a forward-thinking manager in touch with the modern game and that isn’t O’Neill.

As a man who has worked in football for many years, there is probably a job somewhere for the man who served Forest as a player with distinction.

His tactical mindset was sadly lacking during his time at Forest though, with the Reds failing to make a real fist of a play-off push.

His substitutions were often baffling and his style of football revolved around hoofing the ball long – usually to Daryl Murphy as the lone striker.

Iconic status intact

O’Neill can never be knocked for his efforts as a player on Trentside.

He won countless titles with the club, including a First Division title and two European Cups/

Nottingham Forest v Aston Villa - Sky Bet Championship
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His time in the dugout at Forest hasn’t tarnished that reputation and he’d always be welcome at the City Ground.

As far as Celtic appointing him as their new manager goes, however, they have to view O’Neill’s autumn rejection as a lucky escape.

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