SUFFERING a Scottish Cup semi-final defeat, to lower league opponents Ross County no less, during his first stint as Celtic interim manager back in 2010 proved no impediment to Neil Lennon being appointed to the role on a permanent basis.

But that was then and this is now. The team Lennon inherited from Tony Mowbray was in disarray and finished the season empty-handed. The side he took charge of following Brendan Rodgers’ departure earlier this year has been all-conquering for almost three seasons.

Will he get the job on full-time basis if the Parkhead club lose to Aberdeen in the last four of the William Hill-sponsored competition at Hampden tomorrow and see their hopes of completing an unprecedented treble treble brought to an end?

It is, due to the uncertainty that surrounds his present situation and what direction the Scottish champions intend to go in, anybody’s guess.

He could theoretically fail to complete a third consecutive clean sweep of domestic silverware and still be asked to stay on. At the same time, he could lead Scott Brown and his team mates to what would be a historic achievement and be patted on the back, thanked for his efforts and promptly shown the door.

Lennon may be grateful to have been given another opportunity by the club he managed with no little success for four years. But the predicament he finds himself in, working with another man’s team and unsure whether he will be kept on beyond May regardless of how they fare, is unusual and must be unsettling. Especially when other candidates, high-profile coaches like Rafa Benitez, Roberto Martinez and Andre Villas-Boas among them, are linked with the post on an almost daily basis.

The Northern Irishman is endeavouring to blank out the relentless speculation about his future, and who may or may not be getting lined up to take over this summer, and instead focus fully on the task in hand.

“You can’t do anything about it,” he said. “It is just noise, you have got to dismiss it. It may well be that there might be some truth in it. It will be the club’s decision and they will make the decision they feel is best for the club going forward.

“What I have got to do is shy away from that, look to this big game now, get the best team out I possibly can, go and put on a performance and hopefully win.

“It doesn’t put me up or down. My remit is to do the job now. We will see what happens after that. But two weeks ago, according to a lot of people, I had to beat Rangers in order to guarantee the job. Now I have got to win on Sunday to guarantee the job. It is just nonsense.”

Lennon added: “I am just going to take it a game at a time and ignore all the conjecture and speculation. It is difficult. But you have to just blank it out. Again, you can’t control that. You have got to worry about what you can control and try and fathom what you can’t control.

“You can’t let it affect you too much. We are human beings and sometimes it is hard to ignore. But you have to ignore it because you can’t control it. I can’t do anything about speculation, conjecture, opinion, analysis. People are entitled to their view. You have to stay in the here and now.”

Lennon, who won the Scottish Cup four times as a Celtic player and twice as manager, is well advised to concentrate on the challenge posed by Aberdeen and ignore all of the external distractions.

The Pittodrie club had, despite winning the League Cup, reaching numerous semi-finals and finals and finishing runners-up in the Ladbrokes Premiership four seasons running, a reputation of being flat track bullies, of being good against smaller rivals, of coming unstuck against the big clubs. No more.

They have beaten Rangers three times in Glasgow, including in the Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden and Scottish Cup quarter-final at Ibrox, in the 2018/19 and drew with Celtic at Parkhead in the league just last month. Derek McInnes’s men will fancy their chances of ending a run of three cup defeats to their opponents.

“They’ve come up against a really good Celtic team in recent history, who are getting the job done,” he said. “Obviously we want more of the same on Sunday. But in terms of being big game bottlers? I would never cast that at Aberdeen. They went to Ibrox in the last round and won and won well. It’s not an easy thing to do and that’s a big game. It’s probably the most difficult draw we could have had.”

Lennon has an indifferent record at the National Stadium as a manager – due to that loss to County and subsequent defeats against Kilmarnock, St Mirren and Hearts – but he has no hang-ups about his so-called Hampden hoodoo. For him, how the team fares is all that matters.

“A lot’s been made of that (the hoodoo) this week,” he said. “But I’m not into that superstitious stuff. It’s about me just working for the players and helping them get over the line and achieving something very, very special. They’ve got four games to complete something that would be really historical. That’s our focus.”