Neil Lennon has resigned as manager of Celtic, with the Scottish Premiership champions 18 points behind leaders Rangers.
A surprise 1-0 defeat to Ross County ended up being the Northern Irishman’s last game in his second spell at the helm, a result which he admitted had let fans down.
Lennon’s assistant John Kennedy, himself a former Celtic defender, has been placed in charge for the interim.
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Celtic’s bid for a 10th successive league title has faltered badly this season, as Steven Gerrard’s Rangers raced clear at the top. Their Old Firm rivals are seven points away from securing the trophy and are yet to be beaten in the top-flight.
In contrast, Celtic have lost four league games, were dumped out of the Champions League in the qualifying stage by Ferencvaros, and had their League Cup run ended in the last-16 - again by Ross County. They also recorded just a single victory in six Europa League group games, losing four and drawing the other.
The champions also received criticism for a mid-season warm-weather training camp trip to Dubai, which ended up falling during Scotland's coronavirus lockdown. One player tested positive, resulting in a number of the squad having to isolate.
Neil Lennon leaves Celtic having claimed five major trophies in his second spell as manager
Image credit: Getty Images
Lennon leaves having claimed two Scottish Premiership titles, two Scottish Cups and a League Cup since his return in 2019.
In a statement, he said: "We have experienced a difficult season due to so many factors and, of course, it is very frustrating and disappointing that we have not been able to hit the same heights as we did previously.
"I have worked as hard as ever to try and turn things around, but unfortunately we have not managed to get the kind of run going that we have needed.
"I have always given my best to the club and have been proud to deliver silverware to the Celtic supporters. The club will always be part of me. I will always be a Celtic supporter myself and I will always want the best for Celtic.
"I would like to thank so many people at the club who have given me so much and I would also like to thank my family for their love and support. I wish the Celtic supporters, players, staff and directors nothing but success for the future."
Chief executive Peter Lawwell paid tribute to Lennon, but admitted he is sad that the season has not worked out as planned.
"I have watched Neil fight many battles over many years, on and off the field, with a courage and tenacity few could match. Even this season, he has fought so hard and worked tirelessly to turn things around”, he said.
"While this season has not progressed as we would have liked, it cannot diminish the character or integrity of a man who has given the club so much.
"Personally, it is a sad day for me to see Neil leave the club. Neil is a man of quality and decency, he is someone who will always be part of the fabric of Celtic and someone who will always be welcomed at Celtic Park.”
Former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe and Scotland manager Steve Clarke are among those who have already been linked with succeeding Lennon.
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