THE uncertainty over Neil Lennon’s future at Celtic finally, after months of disappointment, speculation, criticism, protests and abuse, ended at just after seven o’clock yesterday morning when the Parkhead club announced to the London Stock Exchange he had resigned. 

Who replaces the Northern Irishman as manager and how the quadruple treble winners proceed from here are no clearer as a result of his sudden departure.

READ MORE: Principal Celtic shareholder Dermot Desmond admits Neil Lennon will be difficult to replace

However, one thing is for sure; whoever comes in to take over from him faces a gargantuan task helping the Glasgow outfit to reclaim their mantle as the dominant force in the Scottish game from Rangers and replicating the success he enjoyed. 

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Discussion among supporters about who would be a good choice to succeed Lennon started way back in August following the painful and costly Champions League qualifying defeat to Ferencvaros at home and has steadily escalated.

Many names have been mentioned as potential candidates; Rafa Benitez, Steve Clarke, Eddie Howe, Mark Hughes, Leonardo Jardim, Roy Keane, John Kennedy, Paul Lambert, Frank Lampard, Shaun Maloney, Enzo Maresca, Roberto Martinez, Alex Neil, Dan Petrescu, Ralf Rangnick, Jack Ross, Jindrick Trpisovsky and David Wagner have all been touted.

But there remains no obvious heir apparent after all this time. 

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Clarke has suddenly emerged as the front runner in recent weeks. The former Newcastle United, Chelsea and Liverpool assistant would certainly tick a lot of boxes. He is an outstanding coach with a proven track record, has worked at a very high level, is widely respected in the game and has vast experience.

The Ayrshireman would be undaunted by the challenge given the size of the clubs he has previously worked at and his appointment would meet with the widespread approval of fans.

READ MORE: Cluj calamity, Old Firm agony and Sparta shame: The 10 defeats that led to Neil Lennon's downfall as Celtic boss

Yet, the 57-year-old, who transformed the fortunes of Kilmarnock and led them into Europe for the first time in 18 years before taking over at Scotland and steering them through to their first major tournament in 22 years, is currently gearing up for the Euro 2020 finals.

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How would it work if he was approached and agreed to take the job? Would he stand down as national boss beforehand? He would go from being the most popular man in the country to the most hated in the bat of an eye if he did so. Plus, he would not be involved in the competition he worked so hard to reach. Would he take charge of the national team this summer and then leave? It would be an unwelcome distraction.

But Celtic need to get somebody on board sooner rather than later. They can ill afford to leave it until June or even July if they want to prise the title from their city rivals’ grasp next term. A major rebuilding job is required and whoever comes in has to be involved.

Several key players are certain to depart at the end of the current campaign. It will be no surprise if Kristoffer Ajer, Ryan Christie and Odsonne Edouard move on. Others who are surplus to requirements need to follow them out of the exit door. They will all have to be replaced. And quickly. 

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Elsewhere, is captain Scott Brown going to continue? He is out of contract at the end of the season and has still to decide if he is going to play on, join another club or move into coaching. He will turn 36 in June. Should he get a new deal? The new manager has to make the decision.

Potentially, Celtic could be looking for a new first team goalkeeper, centre half, left back, right back, central midfielder, playmaker and striker in the close season. 

With the Champions League second qualifying round being played in mid-July, whoever replaces Lennon has to come on board, identify the players he wants to sign and help to bed them in to their new surroundings on the training ground in pre-season. 

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Who, too, is going to oversee the comings and goings? Peter Lawwell, who took a very hands-on role in recruitment, is due to stand down as chief executive in June and be replaced by Dominic McKay.

Will Nick Hammond, the head of football operations, remain in situ? Many of his acquisitions, the likes of Albian Ajeti, Vasilis Barkas and Shane Duffy, have, to date at least, been a disappointment. Rumours of a director of football coming in to work in tandem with McKay abound. 

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Will the new manager get to bring in his own people? Lennon inherited his backroom team when he replaced Brendan Rodgers two years ago tomorrow and always spoke in glowing terms about their contribution. But it would perhaps have been beneficial to him having his own trusted lieutenants.  

The financial and logistical impact of the coronavirus pandemic will, even if lockdown restrictions are eased and the world returns to some sort of normality in the coming months, continue to complicate everybody’s lives.

But season ticket holders need to see that a plan is in place and that better times lie ahead if they are  to part with hundreds of pounds of their hard-earned amid the financial downturn caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

READ MORE: Ibrox elation, Lazio glory and quadruple treble joy: The 10 greatest wins of Neil Lennon's second Celtic reign

Rangers have, in stark contrast to Celtic, enjoyed an enormously successful season and appear in good shape to build on their progress next season. Yes, Alfredo Morelos will probably be offloaded. Borna Barisic, Connor Goldson, Glen Kamara and Ryan Kent could all be the subject of bids from down south and overseas too. And they need to sell a prized asset or two to balance the books after living outwith their means for too long.

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But Steven Gerrard is loving life in Govan, going nowhere and has an abundance of talent. He has coped with injuries and suspensions well since football resumed here last year. His team has a tried and tested system which every member of his pool can slot into effortlessly and a style of play that is effective at home and abroad.

Sporting director Ross Wilson has done little if anything wrong in the transfer market. He can, then, be relied upon to strengthen well if Morelos and others move on. The Ibrox club promise to be a formidable force going forward.

Being made Celtic chief executive last month was a dream come true for McKay, the Scottish Rugby chief operating officer who is a lifelong supporter and season ticket holder, but he will have to make an immediate impact in the most difficult circumstances imaginable or the role could quickly become a little bit of a nightmare.

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