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Daily Record
Daily Record
Graeme Young

Neil Lennon sees former Celtic team-mate's punch line come true amid multiple Omonia warning signs

It's hard to fathom that Neil Lennon' s Cyprus adventure ended a mere five days after narrowly missing out on a stunning Europa League draw away to Manchester United.

But Omonia Nicosia wasted no time to call time on the former Celtic manager's eight months in charge in the wake of Tuesday's defeat to Nea Salamis left them eight points off leaders Pafos. The volatile nature of managing in Cypriot football was known to Lennon before joining but it was cruelly underlined with a marker after Nicosia's defeat.

Lennon was gone in the immediate aftermath of his post-match press conference as the 51-year-old paid the ultimate price despite their exploits in Europe. The Irishman masterminded a Cup triumph last season before wiping the floor with Gent in Europa League qualifying. Yes, Nicosia lost four consecutive group stages matches, however, that doesn't tell the full story of their efforts. They were defeated by Real Sociedad and consecutive games to Manchester United by a single goal - with Scott McTominay's injury time winner rescuing the Red Devils.

But despite the unceremonious exit there's always been an understanding Lennon was operating under Cyprus rules where manager baggings are commonplace in a league where teams jostle for supremacy like Wacky Races. And the dangers were vocalised by both Lennon and one of his former team-mates at Parkhead who knows all about the heat that comes both and off the pitch.

Record Sport looks back at the telltale signs that were ringing loud before the axe fell.

'Like the English Championship'

The former Celtic boss was effusive in his praise of the top flight in Cyprus but pointed to the topsy turvy nature of the quest to secure title glory.

He said: "Tactically, it's improved, the league is quite competitive, it's like the English Championship, it's not like every other major league where two teams can win it, four or five teams can win the league here. We've got a team full of internationals, Brazilians, Hungarians, players who have played against England, they, are not going to be fazed by playing these players."

Not looking too far ahead

Lennon - speaking on talkSPORT - was acutely aware of the importance of staying in the here and now when asked his long-term plans before the double header with Manchester United.

He said: "I will assess everything at the end of the season, the priority is to win the Championship and get into the Champions League qualifiers, we won the Cup last season which was a brilliant feeling, winning a trophy in a different country. I'm really enjoying working with these players, we've got a few British boys here, Brandon (Barker) from Rangers, Adam Matthews, Adam's done absolutely brilliantly."

'Don't unpack your suitcase'

Steven Pressley pulled no punches when Lennon made the switch and the his former Celtic team-mate looks like Nostradamus now after sending Lennon a stark insight into life in Cyprus.

He stated: "He will have to accept there is not a lot of stability in the job. I managed out there for 10 months and that’s actually a decent stint. I staved off relegation with many points to spare, which was my challenge. Then I got four league games of the following season before I was gone. In the season I left, eight managers lost their jobs after 12 fixtures. I was contacted last season, prior to joining Brentford, by a Cypriot club asking me to go over and save them from relegation.

“I would’ve been their fifth manager that season - after 26 games! The problem was that you’d think, with 10 games to go, I’d be guaranteed the rest of the season. But in Cyprus, the reality is that’s not the case. Me and my staff had a continuous joke: Don’t unpack your suitcase.”


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