“Legend on the field. Unmitigated disaster off it”

“Tonight is another reminder of why he has to go. Sadly he can’t take all of his players with him. Utter shambles”

“This board sadly won’t grow a pair and sack him. He’s keeping some major heat off them right now”

When Neil Lennon finally left Celtic, the only people still backing him were @DhenialBhoy67, Scottish football columnists who needed material and Neil Lennon.

By November, what looked set to be a historic campaign for the club had descended into chaos, and by mid-January that chaos was but a blissful memory as the post-Dubai meltdown lurched from one embarrassment to another.

Lennon eventually resigned in late February, but the decision should have been taken out of his hands months earlier. By the time he left the club, his stock with the support was at an all-time low.

The sensible next step would have been to take some time away from anything related to Celtic. Instead, during the summer we’ve seen such headlines as “Neil Lennon outlines Celtic ‘void’ as he opens up on club scouting network”, “Neil Lennon in Ange Postecoglou Celtic culture warning as he insists successor ‘won’t know what he’s getting into’” and “Neil Lennon blasts Celtic fans ‘giving club a bad name’ as he insists he’s no managerial dinosaur”.

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Of course, the man’s entitled to his opinion, but if he’s at all conscious of his legacy he might want to hold off on giving it for the time being.

There’s nothing Lennon could say on Sportsound or anywhere else right now that would restore his reputation. Just as there was never going to be a result that suddenly salvaged Celtic’s 10-in-a-row bid, so there will never be a sentence that instantly gets the supporters back on his side.

Right now, ‘Neil Lennon has his say on Celtic’ is as welcome a collection of words for fans as ‘matchday referee Bobby Madden’ or ‘Nir Bitton takes his place in the centre of defence for tonight’s European qualifier’.

Lennon has the knowledge and experience to find managerial success outwith Scottish football. As an articulate person who’s dealt with more than most in football, he will also have plenty to offer as a pundit. At this point in time, though, he remains marinated in the juices of Dubai, Ross County and spectacular failure to land the 10.

Over the last 25 years of Scottish football, few characters have been more fascinating than Neil Lennon. He’s been confrontational, snarling, defensive and impulsive, while remaining capable of eloquent and insightful thoughts. As the walls closed in during his second managerial spell, the latter Lennon was subsumed by the former.

In his time as a Celtic player, Neil Lennon won five league titles and six cups as well as reaching the UEFA Cup Final. As manager, he added five more league titles and five more cups. Few in Celtic’s history have put their hands on as many trophies.

With every media appearance discussing Celtic, however, he risks that remarkable list of achievements being overshadowed by the manner of his departure.

Lennon needs to take a back seat for his sake and for that of the fans. Give it long enough and he might be remembered for his achievements as a player and manager. At present, however, there’s simply too much emotion on both sides surrounding last season for that to be possible.

For inspiration, Lennon could do worse than look to his adversary in one of Scottish football’s most infamous altercations.

Like Lennon, Ally McCoist achieved great success as a player in Glasgow and, like Lennon, he left with his reputation among the support significantly damaged.

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Post-Ibrox, McCoist stayed below the radar for some time, before easing his way back into the limelight as part of BT Sport’s Scottish football coverage. His warm, enthusiastic and infectious approach as part of ITV’s World Cup 2018 team saw him earn cult hero status and ushered in the age of McCoist 2.0. Regularly providing punditry for Rangers games in the Premiership and in Europe, he is once again an immensely popular figure among the Rangers support.

McCoist didn’t rush it. When he left Ibrox, he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. Instead of trying to remain part of the conversation, settling scores or rewriting history, he took some time out and eventually re-emerged looking like a different and altogether more relaxed man.

He rediscovered his spark, and Rangers fans were ready to embrace him again.

Celtic fans are justifiably in no mood to forgive last season’s failures any time soon, but there is a way back for Lennon.

Before that can happen, he needs to take himself out of the picture as far as Celtic are concerned. Given time and distance, he might one day be remembered for the 10 titles he won and not just the 10th title he lost.

The quotes at the start of this piece, incidentally, are tweets from Rangers supporters during the final months of Ally McCoist’s spell as manager. Seven years on and you’ll struggle to find a Rangers fan who views him as anything other than a hero.

If hearts are to grow fonder, Lennon will have to do the absence bit first.