Celtic boss Neil Lennon looking for star quality to improve Bhoys fortunes

Neil Lennon believes Celtic must sign a box-office star this summer to draw the fans back to Parkhead in their thousands.

Motherwell head for the east end of Glasgow this afternoon with the Hoops’ crashing attendances a hot topic throughout a disastrous campaign.

The official average gate of 46,000 — and many observers believe that figure is distinctly generous — is some 11,000 down on Gordon Strachan’s final season in charge, despite season-ticket prices having been frozen for a third successive year.

Long haul? Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been asked to ear-mark targets for summer spending

Long haul? Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been asked to ear-mark targets for summer spending

Interim boss Lennon has been asked by the board to identify signing targets, with Manchester City star Craig Bellamy believed to be among those under discussion.

Bellamy, a smash hit on loan at Parkhead in 2005, would cost a small fortune, but Lennon pointed to Robbie Keane’s loan deal as reason to believe that Celtic can still be creative in terms of recruitment.

‘Do we have to bring in a marquee-type player to help tempt the crowds back? Possibly, yes,’ said Lennon on Friday. ‘Or we could try to make three or four signings to get the crowd interested.

'To get the fans to think: “Yeah, that’s the kind of player we like and want to watch”.

‘I would love a couple of leaders, a couple of winners. I am pragmatic but I do like an entertainer as well — someone with a bit of creativity.

Box-office: Robbie Keane was voted Player of the Season despite only being at Celtic since January

Box-office: Robbie Keane was voted Player of the Season despite only being at Celtic since January

‘So we are looking at all those areas. I would not necessarily call it a marquee signing, but if you get three or four, or even one, who grabs the imagination of the support, then that would be great.’

‘Robbie Keane did that for Celtic fans, so whether it is a loan signing or a permanent deal, I do think the club are capable of doing something in the market place.

‘It all runs hand in glove. A successful first team means the club runs more smoothly in all departments — including at the box office.’

Lennon’s role right now continues to come under the ‘access all areas’ heading.

He was involved as Paul McGowan signed a new two-year contract in midweek, has overseen a five-match winning run in the SPL and is talking to power-brokers Dermot Desmond and Peter Lawwell about the squad for next season.

Victory over Rangers next Tuesday would undoubtedly help his case, but Lennon isn’t looking too far ahead — even though he wants the job even more now than he did when Tony Mowbray departed the building on March 24.

‘I am always one result away from being in a weakened position in terms of my future,’ he said. ‘That could be the Motherwell game on Saturday, Rangers next week or whatever. But I am pleased with the attitude of the players and the recent performances.

‘I knew the job was big, but I am getting a better idea of the scale of it now. I have had to manage my time and try to delegate.

‘As a player, you are in from 11am to 1pm, but now I am in here from 9am to 7pm most days and, even when I go home, I am sometimes watching DVDs of players or forthcoming opponents. These are all facets of the job, but I am relishing it.

‘My remit does include identifying players. I have spoken at length with Peter Lawwell, Dermot Desmond and football development manager John Park.

‘What I will say about Dermot is he did tell me I had until the end of the season. I want the job more now than ever before. Now that I know even more about it, I mean. It is all-encompassing and I’ve immersed myself in it.’ 

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