Former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is open to the idea of becoming Celtic’s next manager and going head-to-head with former Liverpool rival and England team-mate Steven Gerrard, who is in charge of Rangers. The Gers are imminently set to end the Hoops’ monopoly of the Scottish Premiership title to claim a first crown since 2011.
Gerrard’s side sit top of the Scottish Premiership, 18 points clear of arch-rivals Celtic after the same amount of games and knowing they could possibly go to Parkhead as champions next month. They are seven points from mathematically securing a long-awaited top-flight crown.
Celtic had been hoping to clinch an unprecedented 10 straight league titles to go with their quadruple treble feat, achieved in December with their latest Scottish Cup triumph.
But their struggles this season saw Neil Lennon quit his role as manager on Wednesday morning just two years after replacing Brendan Rodgers at the helm.
The weekend’s loss to Ross County leaves them well adrift of unbeaten Rangers while they also suffered disappointment in Europe and in the Scottish League Cup, in which they also lost to County.
John Kennedy has been put in interim charge of the Celtic team while the Glasgow giants turn their attentions to a long-term replacement for club legend Lennon.
And Football Insider report that Lampard has interest in taking over, although not until the end of the season.
The 42-year-old was axed by Chelsea at the end of last month and replaced by Thomas Tuchel after less than 18 months in the job at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard led the Blues to the Champions League in their first season despite a transfer embargo and the loss of Eden Hazard, who joined Real Madrid.
But his second season was less successful after a £220million summer spend with Chelsea well out of title contention and resigned to a battle for a top-four finish again.
The club’s all-time top goalscorer Lampard was axed as a result and the former Derby County manager, who only has two full seasons of managerial experience on his CV, still remains a free agent.
Football Insider say Lampard plans to remain on a break from the sport until the summer when he will reassess his options.
But if Celtic are still seeking a new manager by then, he will be open to the role, as the Hoops look for a man to plot the downfall of a resurgent Rangers, who are unbeaten in the league this season in what is Gerrard’s third campaign at the helm.
Lampard is open to possibilities but does not want to return to the Championship, feeling he proved himself in England’s second tier with Derby when he reached the play-off final, albeit only to lose to Dean Smith’s Aston Villa.
Gerrard’s progression at Rangers will have left a mark on Celtic as the Gers get ready to celebrate their 55th Premiership title in the coming weeks.
And they may envision a similar story with Lampard at Celtic Park, although more experience names such as former Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez, Scotland’s Steve Clarke and Eddie Howe – last in charge of Bournemouth – have also been linked.
Lennon meanwhile said on Wednesday after leaving his role: “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.
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“I wish the Celtic supporters, players, staff and directors nothing but success for the future.”
While Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell reflected: “I would like to pay tribute to Neil for all he has done for the Club in his second spell, delivering our eighth and ninth successive league titles, the quadruple treble and winning the last five available domestic trophies.
“Neil has always been and will always be a true Celtic man and someone I will always hold in the highest regard.
“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.
“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.
“On behalf of everyone at the club, and personally, I would like to thank Neil for his work as our manager and I wish him and his family good health and continued success in everything they do.”