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Speculation finally laid to rest as St Mirren board pull the plug . . .

IF there was any sort of comfort for Danny Lennon yesterday it was that, finally, he had a definitive answer on his future.

Granted, it was not the resolution he would have wanted after the St Mirren board elected not to extend his four years as manager but, after months of existing on football's equivalent of death row, he was at last at peace. Lennon and St Mirren have consciously uncoupled.

It is not difficult to have a degree of sympathy for the fallen manager. Even those who for months felt a change in the dug-out was necessary had begun to soften of late, both as a result of some late-season form but also due to the way Lennon had been left twisting in the wind. It is rare for any manager to simply be allowed to see out his contract but as the days ticked by it became increasingly clear that Lennon's tenure would not be extended beyond the summer.

Asked repeatedly about his situation, the former Cowdenbeath manager was put in the awkward position of having to admit he was no further forward with the negotiations. It spoke volumes for Lennon's integrity that even in the last few days of his reign he still had nothing but praise for the board of directors for giving him this opportunity in the first place.

There were various times, though, when it looked as if he would not make it through the season. When his situation looked the bleakest during a run of poor results, his pre-match media conferences became almost like a public appeal for clemency. These would often take the form of a rehearsed list of everything he had achieved in his time of charge.

Most prominently there was last year's League Cup success, the club's first major trophy in 26 years and a maiden success in that competition. Next came St Mirren's remarkable ability to flirt with relegation most years and always escape - there will be a ninth successive season of top-flight football in Paisley next year - then his successful integration of a number of graduates from the club's youth academy into the first team. Of the matchday squad that faced Hearts last weekend, six had come through the ranks.

The natural inclination from those looking in from the outside is to ask: just what more could Lennon have done? And they have a point. After all, a trophy and two eighth-place finishes in four years seems a more than decent haul.

Among those who watch the team week in, week out, however, there was a feeling that it was time for a change. Whether restricted by a limited budget or a lack of proper scouting, Lennon undoubtedly made some poor decisions in his transfer dealings. In the past year he signed, or took on loan, David Cornell, Jake Caprice, Gary Harkins, Danny Grainger, Stephane Bahoken, Kealon Dillon, Eric Djema-Djemba and Adam Campbell, none of whom went on to make more than a sprinkling of appearances.

All, apart from Harkins who has a year outstanding on his contract, have either departed or will do so imminently. The failure of Bahoken to establish himself, in particular, placed an enormous burden on Steven Thompson, who at 35 years old was the only senior striker in the squad in the first half of the season.

There was also the case of Hugh Murray, the club's record appearance holder, who was allowed to leave two years ago for Partick Thistle under something of a cloud, and the decision to ostracise Lee Mair then allow him to sign for a relegation rival. Lennon's detractors will also point towards three seasons out of four scrambling to avoid the drop while those thought to be on a similar budget - including St Johnstone and Inverness Caledonian Thistle - have broken through into the top six.

A new manager is expected to be appointed by the end of the week, among his first tasks will be just how to deal with the vast swathe of players approaching the end of their contracts. Some, like Gary Teale, have expressed a desire to hang around while others like Kenny McLean, Paul McGowan and Christopher Dilo - yesterday linked with Celtic, according to reports in his native France - will no doubt attract suitors the longer St Mirren dilly-dally.

There is also the issue of a potential change of ownership at the club, a saga that is threatening to rival The Mousetrap in its longevity. St Mirren was on the market when Lennon was appointed in 2010 and remains so now that he has gone.

Yesterday's announcement on Lennon, rather than a further delay as had seemed possible, would suggest a takeover may not be as close as had seemed the case not so long ago. Either that or any new manager might not want to get too comfy in the hotseat.

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