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Lennon dispels exit rumours with talk of 'building new team'

NEIL Lennon has given the strongest hint so far that he intends to stay with Celtic and build a new team to compete in next season's Champions League.

Lennon says Celtic's transfer policy 'can't change' after a week in which the club was thumped in Europe. Picture: SNS
Lennon says Celtic's transfer policy 'can't change' after a week in which the club was thumped in Europe. Picture: SNS

The Celtic manager is midway through his fourth full campaign and there has been speculation that he would leave in the summer to test himself in English football. But Lennon attended a Celtic board meeting yesterday morning and afterwards he spoke in positive tones about staying at the club to build a team to win the SPFL Premiership and return to the Champions League group stage next season.

"I never think about other jobs because there are millions of good managers out there without a job," he said. "I can't be blase enough to think 'well, I've done my bit here, I'm not getting what I want, it's time for me to stomp off somewhere else'. That, to me, is a spoiled brat kind of attitude. You have good days in the job and you have bad days in the job. In the last couple of years, the good days have way outweighed the bad."

A board meeting was scheduled for the end of the Champions League group stage, whichever way the campaign unfolded. The meeting was unrelated to Wednesday's 6-1 collapse against Barcelona at Camp Nou.

"People say a manager can only take a team so far - well, you build another team then. That's the challenge. It's the motivation. You feel lousy after a performance like Wednesday and it damages your record, if you want to call it that. So the motivation is to have a new start and go again. Can I build another team that is as good as last year's? I might get the sack tomorrow, I don't know. I'm the manager of Celtic and it's a privilege."

Celtic have been criticised for not spending enough money in the summer after making more than £20m from the Champions League and then selling Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper for over £17m. But Lennon defended the board's policy of signing at around the £1m-£3m price bracket then developing the players and selling them on at a profit.

When asked if the policy should change, he said: "It can't change. It can't. We can spend significant money so long as they are young and good enough. But it has to be the right one and he has to want to come, so we can eventually sell him on.

"Look at it this way, we did make significant bids for a couple of players. Would it have made a difference to us qualifying [if we had been able to sign them]? If I had put all my eggs in one basket and bought a £7m player and not tidied up other areas of the squad, would we have qualified from the group? I don't know, is the answer. Would he have made us better? Possibly in the striking department, yeah.

"But we're not in a position to spend £7m on a player and that's the reality of it. Maybe £4m and again it's about attracting the right one and getting the wages right. When you're investing that sort of money it has to be spot on."

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