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Michael Taylor 3rd May 2010 - 12:00

Lennon can take the opportunity to stake his claim

Neil Lennon couldn't have made it clearer that he wants to head into next season as Celtic's permanent manager, a claim that'd bear far more weight if the Bhoys can regain some pride and win the last Old Firm Derby of this season.

It's fair to say that Celtic fans have had it rough this season as the Tony Mowbray experiment ended in complete disaster.

The former West Brom manager arrived in Glasgow desperate to stamp his unique brand of flowing football on the club only to find that the Gordon Strachan era wasn't built for the tactical shift.

Strachan's values of commitment, strong work ethic and consistency soon evaporated, sadly though it wasn't replaced with the expected free-flowing football rather a characterless brand of inconsistency.

The results were bad, the title race was short lived and Mowbray was soon heading towards the exit door to be replaced in the interim by ex-player/Celtic legend Lennon - and since then it seems momentum is shifting.

Barring the infamous 2-0 Active Nation Scottish Cup semi-final loss to Ross County results have dramatically improved since the Irishman's arrival at the helm, enough to turn him into a viable permanent manager candidate.

This weekend's 4-0 romp over fourth placed Motherwell made it six wins from six SPL games and although only 24,000 spectators came to see the latest game the positive message won't be lost on a bumper Old Firm crowd this Tuesday.

Celtic Park will be jumping and if the likes of Scott Brown and Aiden McGeady can replicate their form of late then the home side look good value to put a belated blow in their enemy's title charge.

It came as a welcome sight this weekend when McGeady delicately chipped home to hand the Hoops with an early second-half advantage, not least because he's one of many that has experienced a poor year under the new regime.

It also worked as the platform for a relative stroll, although it's worth saying the stroll was made all the more simple with former Scottish Player of the Year Scott Brown didn't stop running and providing throughout the 90 minutes.

The passionate midfielder never stopped, a point emphasised by his final minute, lung-busting run that saw Robbie Keane put the final touches to a flowing move - nobody can deny that in that mood Brown will cause problems for any team.

If he can step up again and get his partnership going with Keane then they will cause problems for the ageing legs of David Weir in the heart of Rangers' defence.

The question has to then become does Celtic's defence have an answer for the away team's forward line of Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller - a partnership that has brought the Ibrox club an unbelievable 45 goals this year.

Miller will once again take the role of pantomime villain as he returns to his old hunting ground, even worse news is that he'll be a freshly rested villain after sitting out of the weekend's action, one of seven first teamers Walter Smith had the freedom to rest.

However, the real danger man could prove to be recently named SPL player of the year Steven Davis who'll be the man charged with finding the killer balls to the deadly strike duo.

Davis has been a revelation this season and should have been buoyed by the first major individual award of his career, making him an even more dangerous threat for the likes of Andreas Hinkel and Darren O'Dea.

Despite all of this though I still believe the momentum is with the home side, if only because it's they who need to win as they start the preparation for what they hope will be a rebound season.

Scott Brown is the decisive man in my eyes, which makes him look a snip at 4/1 to net anytime while I also expect a few goals to flow in a match that carries nothing other than Glaswegian pride.

The most favourable spread on the total match goals over/under market has to be the over 2.5 at 21/20 although I really wouldn't be surprised to see a wide open affair making the over 3.5 a real possibility at a great looking 11/4.

In terms of match betting I'm going to be taking the 23/20 about Celtic, although, how I see it, if the Bhoys win here then Lennon is here to stay so a better bet could be the 2/1 about him becoming the next Celtic manager.




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