Clarke hints at Killie farewell

Steve Clarke appeared to say goodbye to Kilmarnock fans following their final day victory over Rangers at Rugby Park.

Clarke has been heavily touted as the man to replace Alex McLeish as Scotland manager and he looks set to depart his role at the Scottish Premiership side now.

Killie's 2-1 win over Rangers guaranteed them a Europa League spot next season, but their 55-year-old boss dropped a heavy hint he might not be in the dugout when they return to European competition for the first time in 18 years.

"The most important thing in any football club anywhere in the world is the supporters, and when I came here we didn't have so many," Clarke said.

"We had a disconnect between the support, the board, the players. There was nothing, no togetherness, I said this when I came in: together we are stronger.

"In my time at Kilmarnock Football Club, I'm sorry I didn't win you a trophy."

Clarke has won the Scottish Premiership's Manager of the Season award as well as PFA Scotland and Scottish Football Writers' Manager of the Season awards having guided his club to third place behind champions Celtic and Rangers.

He says supporters of the Ayrshire club should be proud of what they now have.

"This is Kilmarnock, this belongs to you. And the most important thing, I said no trophy – for me, I take this. This is my trophy, thank you," said Clarke, pointing at the cheering supporters.

Celtic meanwhile are 4/11 to win Saturday's Scottish Cup final against Hearts. The Jambos are 15/2 while the draw is 15/4 for their Hampden Park showdown.

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Lennon happy to deflect title praise

Celtic's interim boss Neil Lennon was happy to deflect any praise from himself after they secured an eighth successive Scottish Premiership crown with a 3-0 win at Aberdeen.

The Hoops had a first-half header from Mikael Lustig to ease any nerves before fellow defender Jozo Simunovic headed home for the second week running eight minutes into the second half.

Odsonne Edouard rounded off the scoring late on, ensuring Celtic now only need to defeat Hearts in this month's Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park to clinch the 'treble treble' of domestic dominance.

Lennon and his players attended the funeral of Billy McNeill, captain of the 1967 European Cup-winning Lisbon Lions team and former manager at Parkhead, on Friday, while his teammate Stevie Chalmers – the match-winner against Inter Milan 52 years ago – has also passed away this week.

In the circumstances, Lennon was keen to dedicate this latest title success to their memories.

"I can't think of two more worthy people to dedicate this title to, if the fans and the club are behind it then so am I," he said afterwards.

"They were the two giants of this club and I can't speak highly enough of my opinion of them, they were the greats and Billy, for me, was what the club is all about."

Lennon came in back in February as interim boss after Brendan Rodgers departed to manage Leicester City.

Stepping into Rodgers' role was the 'toughest piece of management' Lennon has done, he says, and he also paid tribute to his predecessor.

"Credit to Brendan [Rodgers] for the success because of foundation he built and I was lucky enough to build on," he added.

Rangers meanwhile are 2/5 to beat Hibernian at Ibrox on Sunday. Lennon's former club are 15/2 while the draw is 10/3.

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Clarke keen to manage Scotland

Steve Clarke admits that he hopes to manage Scotland at 'some stage' but he refused to be drawn on the possibility of becoming the successor to Alex McLeish.

The Scottish Football Association is on the hunt for a new national team boss after McLeish was sacked on Thursday, just 14 months into his second stint at the helm.

Scotland topped their UEFA Nations League group to secure a Euro 2020 play-off place but their qualifying campaign got off to a horror start with a 3-0 defeat to Kazakhstan in the opening Group I match last month.

Victory over San Marino wasn't enough to appease the critics and the axe duly fell on McLeish.

Clarke has enjoyed a positive stint back in his homelands since taking the reins at Kilmarnock.

His side face Aberdeen on Saturday and he was asked if he had the desire at any stage to manage the national team at his press conference.

"Yes, at some stage," he said.

"Whether it is now or not is a matter for you guys to talk about and speculate. I am fully focused on finishing the season well here at Kilmarnock.

"I don't speculate, there is no point in doing that. I know how football works. I am fully focused on this job here."

Whether or not the SFA choose to go after the former Reading and West Brom boss remains to be seen. Clarke has, in the past, been linked with managerial vacancies at both Rangers and Celtic.

Kilmarnock are 8/5 to be Aberdeen on Saturday. The Dons are 7/4 while the draw trades at 11/5.

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Lennon unsure on next season

Celtic interim manager Neil Lennon is not yet sure whether he will lead the team into next season.

Speaking after his side cruised into the Scottish Cup after beating nine-man Aberdeen 3-0 at Hampden Park, he said he'll keep going but has no idea on his long-term future.

He told the BBC: "There's a lot of speculation about people being interviewed – they don't do that sort of thing, they let me get on with the job and, if and when they decide whoever gets the job, they'll speak to the right person.

"It's been a tough week, the build-up and speculation, but we've come through it very well and I'm delighted more than anything with the level of performance today."

Aberdeen's task at Hampden was made even more challenging on 26 minutes when they were reduced to 10 men, Dominic Ball given a second yellow card after a bad challenge on Ryan Christie.

Celtic then took the lead just before half-time, James Forrest getting away from Max Lowe and firing into the top of the Dons net.

Odsonne Edouard made it two from the penalty spot after Mikey Devlin brought down Jonny Hayes in the area and any chance of an Aberdeen comeback was brought to an end when Lewis Ferguson was dismissed for a challenge on Tom Rogic who scored Celtic's third from the resulting free-kick.

A bad day for the Dons was exemplified by boss Derek McInnes and assistant Tony Docherty also being sent to the stands.

So, Celtic are through to the final where they will meet Hearts back at Hampden Park next month.

By that time they should be on course for another domestic treble. After winning the League Cup under Brendan Rodgers they are 11 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

They could clinch the title next Sunday when they travel to Easter Road to take on Lennon's previous club Hibs. They are 4/9 for a win with Hibs 13/2 and the draw 16/5. Celtic are 11/2 to win the game 1-0.

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Bhoys win ill-tempered clash

Celtic survived a second half fightback, in more ways than one, from Rangers as they sneaked a late 2-1 win at Parkhead to inch close to another Scottish Premiership title.

The Home side bossed the first half and went ahead when Odsonne Edouard took a pass from James Forrest on half-way and danced away before beating Allan McGregor.

The same combination linked up to provide the winner four minutes from the end, Forrest ice-cool with his low finish after a mistake from 'Gers skipper James Tavernier handed Celtic the initiative.

But that barely scratched the surface of what was a tempestuous Old Firm occasion.

Alfredo Morelos earned his fifth red card of the season when he swung an elbow at Scott Brown before half-time. Rangers rallied with ten men and deservedly levelled when Ryan Kent skipped away from the Hoops cover on 63 minutes.

It became ten against ten when Dedryck Boyata went off injured after Neil Lennon had used all his substitutions and Ryan Jack spurned a glorious chance to put Rangers ahead with a quarter of an hour left.

As it was, Forrest was the match-winner and Rangers goalscorer Kent was fortunate not to see red when he appeared to punch Brown before the game restarted.

There were further ugly scenes at the end, Brown this time being involved in an altercation with Andy Halliday as he celebrated Celtic's win.

Lennon paid tribute to French youngster Edouard, Celtic's record signing last summer.

"Rangers' goal made everyone a little anxious. We should have been on the front foot but it was all or nothing for them (Rangers) today," he said.

"At 1-0 the game's always in the balance even against 10 men. We looked a little naive at times but we re-galvanised and scored a great goal to win.

"I thought Odsonne Edouard was the best player on the pitch by a country mile."

For Gerrard there was frustration that his leading goalscorer once again failed to keep a lid on his temper.

"Obviously he's been provoked in the first place but it's happened on too many occasions now and I've gone above and beyond – I've backed Alfredo more than enough and I can't defend him anymore. He'll be punished internally for it and we'll move forward," said the Light Blues boss.

Celtic are 1/6 to win at St Mirren on Wednesday evening, with Rangers 11/20 to bounce back by defeating Hearts at Ibrox.

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Lennon ready to fill Hoops ‘chasm’

Neil Lennon admits there is a 'chasm to fill' after being installed as Celtic's interim manager following Brendan Rodgers' departure for Leicester City.

Lennon led Celtic to three titles from 2011 onwards before departing on his own terms having stated he could take the Hoops no further.

He now returns to Parkhead, with Celtic seemingly on the brink of winning an eighth successive Scottish Premiership crown.

They lead the way from Rangers by eight points after Rodgers departed with his perfect record intact. The new Leicester manager won seven domestic trophies out of seven after arriving in Glasgow in the summer of 2016.

He landed back-to-back trebles and has already retained the League Cup this term, but Rodgers found the lure of a move back to England's Premier League too strong as he made a swift exit on Monday.

While Lennon suggests Rodgers' departure leaves a gaping hole, he won't be attempting to make dramatic changes in his return to the Celtic dugout. He has been given the job until the end of the season.

"There's a chasm to fill with Brendan leaving," Lennon told Celtic TV.

"He's done a remarkable job, but I'm here for the club. The club comes first as do the players. I want to bring as much success during my time here as I possibly can.

"All I want to do is carry that on – it's not broken and I'm not coming in and looking to revolutionise anything."

Lennon was manager of Hibernian until an acrimonious departure from Easter Road last month.

He takes charge of Celtic on Wednesday evening in Edinburgh as they face Hearts, while his second game back at the helm is a return to Hibs in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals this weekend.

The former midfielder made 214 appearances for the Glasgow club in a seven-year spell as a player before departing in 2007.

Celtic are 8/15 to win at Tynecastle, with Hearts 5/1 to inflict defeat on the league leaders and the stalemate priced at 3/1.

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Foxes confirm Rodgers appointment

Leicester City have confirmed the appointment of Brendan Rodgers as their new manager, with Celtic bringing in Neil Lennon as interim boss to replace him.

The 46-year-old, who replaces Claude Puel after the Frenchman was sacked on Sunday, has signed a deal until June 2022 after compensation was agreed with Celtic.

The Northern Irishman, who took charge of Celtic in May 2016 and has since guided the club to back-to-back Scottish domestic trebles, while they have already lifted the Scottish League Cup this season, has brought in Chris Davies as assistant manager, Kolo Toure as first-team coach and Glen Driscoll as first-team fitness coach.

Rodgers, who will remain at the King Power Stadium to watch his new side's Premier League match with Brighton on Tuesday night, said on the club website: "I'm very privileged and honoured to be here as Leicester City manager and I'll give my life to make the supporters proud of their club.

"Together, we'll be stronger and I'm looking forward to working with the players, staff and supporters to make the right steps forward."

Leicester vice chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said: "I'm absolutely delighted to bring a manager of Brendan's calibre to Leicester City and I look forward to seeing what he, our talented, young squad and our dedicated, skilled team of staff can achieve together.

"As projects, including the development of our new training ground and the proposed expansion of King Power Stadium continue to take shape, and as a young squad of great potential begins to mature, Brendan and his colleagues arrive at an exciting time for Leicester City.

"We're continuing to grow as a club and I am anticipating that Brendan's coaching methods, knowledge and experience can enhance our journey."

Meanwhile, former Celtic boss, Lennon, who guided the club to three titles from 2011 before departing in 2014, will return to take charge until the end of the season.

The 47-year-old only departed his role as Hibernian manager last month, but has been installed with immediate effect ahead of Wednesday's Scottish Premiership game against Hearts at Tynecastle.

Leicester are 11/10 to secure a top-half Premier League finish, while Rodgers' first game on the touchline is set to be a trip to his former club Watford on Sunday. The Foxes are 21/10 to win, while the Hornets are priced at 13/10 and the draw is 23/10.

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Foxes close on Rodgers appointment

Leicester City are closing in on the appointment of Brendan Rodgers as their new manager, with Celtic having granted them permission to speak to their number one target.

Rodgers, who has managed in the Premier League with both Swansea City and Liverpool, has made it known that he would like to talk to the Foxes about the opportunity to succeed Claude Puel as the man in charge at the King Power Stadium.

And the current champions of Scotland have allowed him that chances, with a short statement from the Bhoys reading: "Celtic Football Club today confirms that it has been approached by Leicester City FC to speak to Brendan Rodgers with regards to their current managerial vacancy.

"Brendan has indicated to the club that this is an opportunity he wishes to investigate further and therefore, very reluctantly, the club has granted him permission to speak to Leicester City."

Rodgers took charge of Celtic in May 2016 and has since guided the club to back-to-back Scottish domestic trebles, while they have already lifted the Scottish League Cup this season.

They are currently eight points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership and have been drawn to face Hibernian in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup.

Leicester, meanwhile, are in 12th place in the Premier League standings and are without a win in their last seven games in all competitions.

City are back in action on Tuesday evening when they play host to Brighton, with the Foxes 10/11 to win the game, 11/2 to do so by a 1-0 scoreline and 5/4 to keep a clean sheet.

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Rodgers eases title pressure

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers has played down the effect of his side facing being under pressure in their bid to win an eight consecutive Scottish league title.

The Bhoys are six points clear at the top of the table, having maintained their advantage thanks to a 2-0 win at home to Hibernian on Wednesday evening, which was their fifth successive SPFL victory.

And Rodgers is calm about the prospects for the coming weeks, with Rangers still hoping to overhaul their rivals to be crowned Scottish champions for the first time since 2011.

He told reporters: "I have always tried to get my team to play without pressure and you can see that now because they are playing well.

"People talk about pressure, but we didn't concede a goal, we played very well and, while there are items we can look at, we are just enjoying our football.

"We can only focus on ourselves. There is a perception created around a challenge for the title that it's tight, but all you can do is focus on our own performance and play good football.

"If we do that, then we know there is a good chance we'll win."

Celtic are 1/7 to win the SPFL title, with Rangers priced at 5/1, while the Bhoys are 11/10 to win the Scottish Cup for a third season in a row.

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Rodgers counts cost of victory

Celtic moved six points clear of Rangers with a 2-0 win over St Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership, though it may be three points at a cost.

The home side were organised throughout the McDiarmid Park clash and largely kept the champions at bay.

Brendan Rodgers summoned first Odsonne Edouard and then Timothy Weah – after the Frenchman had to come back off injured – from his bench to bolster his attacking options and it was the on-loan Paris St-Germain forward Weah that inspired the Bhoys.

Weah's 78th minute cross was turned home from close range by James Forrest for the vital opening goal and the American teenager then led a sharp breakaway, exchanging passes with Callum McGregor for the easiest of finishes on 89 minutes, to seal the win.

But it was three points at a cost for Celtic.

Record signing Edouard was stretchered off after he kicked the studs of Saints defender Ryan Shaughnessy in a goalmouth scramble only eight minutes into his cameo.

Celtic also lost Mikael Lustig to injury at half-time while goalscorer Forrest limped off with a hamstring problem near the end – leaving Celtic down to ten men with all their subs on. And they finished with nine as Kristoffer Ajer carelessly got himself sent off in stoppage time for a professional foul.

Rodgers – already without Kieran Tierney, Dedryck Boyata, Leigh Griffiths, Tom Rogic, Olivier Ntcham, Tony Ralston and Filip Benkovic for various reasons will have to re-adjust his pack for Wednesday's visit of Hibernian, while Celtic also have a Europa League tie with Valencia looming amid eight games in February.

"If you watch the replay again, the boy Shaughnessy's stretching and his foot is accidental as Odsonne's gone to hit it," Rodgers said of Edouard's injury.

"These modern boots are not so tough. It's just caught him right on the front of his foot so he's in a wee bit of pain but hopefully he will be okay.

"James is more of a worry, he felt his hamstring a bit tight. We had to play the last 10 minutes or so with 10 men.

"We'll make do. We have some outstanding players who can play in those positions. We will assess it on Monday and see where we're at."

Celtic are 13/5 to beat Valencia in Glasgow on 14th February in their last-32 first leg. The La Liga side are 21/20 while the draw is 12/5.

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