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It will take a lot to prise Lennon out of Scottish football . . .

THERE has yet to be a telephone call from Norwich to Glasgow offering Neil Lennon a job, nor one asking Celtic for permission to speak to him.

Neil Lennon could not get his head around the 'humdrum lifestyle' of a footballer down south. Picture: SNS
Neil Lennon could not get his head around the 'humdrum lifestyle' of a footballer down south. Picture: SNS

There has yet to be as much as a tentative inquiry to sound him out. But any of these could come, because Chris Hughton is tap-dancing on a trapdoor at Norwich City and the club's chief executive has gauchely spoken in public about considering potential successors. Two factors have to be established for this story to have legs. Firstly, might Norwich want Lennon? Secondly, would he want to go there?

Neither point is straightforward. Norwich were first linked with Lennon in the summer of 2012. They continue to be impressed by his energy and knowledge and there is an acknowledgement that someone who has handled the issues and pressure he has faced in Scotland is not likely to be fazed by the English Premier League. Beating Barcelona and reaching the last 16 of the Champions League last season still resonate as compelling endorsements of his coaching ability. But Malky Mackay's name has also been linked with the position which may soon be vacated.

Mackay would seem a more natural choice, with prior experience in England's top flight with Cardiff City. He is currently unemployed and available; it would take a £1m compensation cheque to get Lennon out of Celtic.

And then there is the matter of whether Lennon wants to leave now. Leaving eventually is not up for debate - he will want to test himself in English football someday - but in 2012 he gave an insight into his way of thinking which is still germane. He talked about the buzz of managing Celtic, the "exposure" that comes with being manager at Parkhead, and of being "institutionalised" in the intensity and stimulation of Glasgow life despite the bigotry and assaults which have occasionally come his way. And he said this about the brief spell he had at Nottingham Forest near the end of his playing career: "I just couldn't get my head around it at all. There was a lack of intensity, a humdrum lifestyle of a footballer down there."

If Norwich are in the Sky Bet Championship next season, would life there be much different from Nottingham Forest? Would there not be a lack of intensity and the prospect of a humdrum life in East Anglia? Norwich are in a tailspin in which they have won one of their last 11 league games, leaving them just a single point above the relegation places.

If Lennon went there now and took them down, there would not be much to protect him from being hurled off the merry-go-round within a year if he could not quickly start to deliver results in that unforgiving 24-team division.

It would seem most likely, then, that Norwich would be more inclined to turn to Mackay if Hughton is jettisoned, and that even if they did come to Lennon he would have reservations about going there.

Lennon is in no rush to cut the umbilical cord which ties him to Celtic. The club still has a powerful hold on him and that is never stronger than when he is managing in the Champions League proper.

He has had 14 nights of that and wants more because they serve as an assertion of Celtic's size and importance and also put him among the continent's elite managers. He knows the intoxicating rush of being a Champions League coach will be an almighty sacrifice to make when he moves on, as will the thrill of regularly winning trophies and the power of simply mattering so much to tens of thousands of people.

But the extent of his contentment in Glasgow is dependent on the belief that he has a competitive, improving team in Europe. It was as obvious to him as everyone else that this season's European assault was mounted with a poorer side than last season's. Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper were not adequately replaced. Over the coming weeks - or far, far sooner if Norwich City or some other attractive club do pick up the phone with an offer - Lennon will be asking questions of chief executive Peter Lawwell about exactly what level of investment will be made on the squad this summer.

The answers will have a profound effect on his mood and his appetite for what would be his fifth full season in charge.

As for Celtic, they are not likely to be caught like rabbits in the headlights whenever Lennon eventually leaves. It looked crass and insensitive towards Hughton when Norwich chief executive David McNally said it would be "almost delinquent of the football club to not be aware of potential candidates" to replace him. But it was the public discussion of that, rather than the reality that it, that jarred. When there was speculation that Lennon might leave for Everton last summer Celtic sounded out Owen Coyle.

Well-run clubs do not exist in a state of denial and then suddenly start frantically hunting around the day after they lose their manager. Succession planning must be done well in advance. Norwich City, Neil Lennon and Celtic must always, in their own way, be contemplating the next move.

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