Celtic’s history: we appoint managers late


Lou Macari was the permanent managerial appointment Celtic made mid-season.  Since then we have appointed 11 managers.  Three in July, six in June and two in May.  The only appointment made as early in the year as today’s date (24 May) was that of Brendan Rodgers, on 20 May 2016.

Neil Lennon’s second permanent spell started on 25 May 2019 but apart from those two we had to wait until June or July.  Celtic vacillated around the Roy Keane plughole in the spring of 2014 before appointing Ronny Deila on 6 June.  It took until 16 June 2009 before Tony Mowbray started his 9 months of misadventure.

Martin O’Neill (2000) and his successor, Gordon Strachan (2005), both took up their positions on 1 June in what was choreographed with contractual arrangements, and for some reason it took until 8 June 1999 to secure John Barnes’ services.

Those fretting most right now were probably not around in the 90s.  Tommy Burns appointment happened on 11 July 1994.  Wim Jansen short and successful stay started on 3 July 1997, whereas Fergus McCann took until the Fair Fortnight, 17 July 1998, to be precise, to secure Jo Venglos.  Can you imagine waiting until July?  17 JULY?  Let’s not.

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  1. GENE on 24TH MAY 2021 1:42 PM



    It sounds a little like the one WGS inherited. Although maybe that was more down to a mixture of ageing players and poor ones

  2. from Athletic



    As urgent as it is that Celtic focus all their attention on the next club era and team cycle, there are instructive lessons to be learned from where, why and how this season has gone so disastrously wrong.


    We have highlighted five notable areas where Celtic have statistically regressed, which have contributed to their dreadful season.



    Chance creation and concession



    One of the most glaring areas of decline this season compared with last has been Celtic’s chance creation. Over the course of 2019-20, Celtic’s expected goals (xG) — which measures the quality of shots taken and how many times a team should have scored — trended upwards as the team became more confident in themselves and Neil Lennon’s individualist philosophy. There was a notable dip in the winter as the intense flurry of fixtures and a staleness to the gameplan seeped in, but the switch to a 3-5-2 gave Celtic a lift in the weeks before COVID-19 suspended the season.



    Although Celtic began 2020-21 with excellent form in chance creation, their average xG trended downwards in the autumn and winter. This aligns with the eye test: individual talent taking priority over a coherent tactical system was coming unstuck, and players were increasingly struggling to come up with ideas to break down defences. Confidence in the game plan was being eroded, and although Lennon switched up both formations and personnel, he laboured unsuccessfully.


    Celtic’s expected goals against (xGA) has also regressed from last season. However, it might be surprising that the gulf in xGA is not greater than it is given how poor some of their defending has been. Although the number and quality of chances Celtic are giving away has increased, that does not entirely account for the disparity between goals conceded. In 2019-20, they conceded 0.63 goals per game; in 2020-21, they are conceding 0.8 goals a game on average. That is a different issue we will address shortly.


    Since John Kennedy has taken over as interim manager, Celtic have gradually improved their xG if not their xGA, but Kennedy’s dire run of three wins in eight games can be largely attributed to another key deficiency…



    Not finishing chances



    Another issue naturally related to xG and xGA is Celtic’s shot conversion. They are not creating as many chances this season, but just as crucially, they are not finishing as efficiently the chances they are creating. As illustrated by the table below, Celtic were generally very efficient in putting away chances in 2019-20, particularly in the early weeks and after the winter break. They did not fall below 12 per cent in shot conversion, even at their nadir.



    By contrast, Celtic have trended downwards for most of this season. Although they were taking their chances well enough in the opening months of 2020-21, when Celtic were winning games but the underlying performances were leaving much to be desired, they gradually fell away as they entered their bleak autumn. They had their worst run of form since 1994-95, winning just two games in 12 in all competitions, with their poor finishing compounded by woeful defensive organisation and a lack of control over the midfield. Their goalscoring reached a low point of an eight per cent conversion rate.


    Even before Lennon was sacked and Kennedy took over, Celtic’s shot conversion had stabilised slightly, but Kennedy’s Celtic have still been dreadful at putting away their chances. According to Opta, Celtic’s last three games (two defeats to Rangers, and a draw at Aberdeen) saw them score just two goals from an xG of 8.2.



    Goalkeeper problems



    Another of the most conspicuous areas of weakness has been in goalkeeping. In comparison with last season, when Fraser Forster fulfilled the cliche of single-handedly earning Celtic points with some incredible saves, Scott Bain and Vasilis Barkas have been mediocre.


    As illustrated by the table below, Bain and Barkas are mid-table for goals prevented — which is a measure of shot-stopping performance — among Premiership goalkeepers who have played 900+ minutes this season.


    The measure looks at “expected goals on target” (xGOT, the likelihood of a shot going in, based on factors such as the placement in the goal and the angle from which the shot is taken) that a goalkeeper faces. This can be used to measure the number of goals prevented, which compares how many a goalkeeper actually conceded against the number they were expected to. The higher the goals prevented number, the better the shot-stopping performance.



    It is unsurprising to see Allan McGregor at the top of the list given the quality of his shot-stopping this season, particularly in games against Celtic. The standard of saves he was making contrasted with the sloppiness of goals conceded by Barkas and Bain in all five derbies.


    Bain and Barkas have clearly underperformed with goal preventing figures of 0.8 and -0.3 respectively. While Conor Hazard has not played enough minutes to qualify for the table, his shot-stopping was impressive during 450 minutes of playing time, only conceding one goal from 4.34 expected goals on target — giving him a highly respective goals prevented of 3.34. However, that was a small sample size, and he was comfortably poorer in cross collection and kicking than Celtic’s two other options.


    This issue might not seem as significant as the decline in xG and shot conversion, and retaining Forster for this season would probably not have dramatically altered this season’s direction or outcome. But having a great keeper is the kind of marginal gain that can be the differential in a title race if they prevent a few crucial goals a season, and subsequently, earn your team extra points. Allied to Celtic’s problems with shot conversion, over Celtic’s last three games, they have conceded seven goals from an xGA of 3.5 according to Opta.


    If Celtic are to properly challenge next season, they need to upgrade their keeper options.



    Control over games



    Rather than dictating not only possession but the tempo and flow of a game, which nullifies the opportunities for counter-attacks and conceding chances, Celtic have generally given away the ball far too easily this season.


    A metric that can measure control with some accuracy is the number of possessions within a match. This is because the more frequently the ball changes hands, the more frenetic a game is being suggested. The table below outlines the number of possessions in Celtic games last season, and this season.



    As allied with Celtic’s improving xG as 2019-20 progressed, the average number of possessions trended downwards as Lennon’s side became more confident in itself and better at ball retention. At the beginning of this season, the number of average possessions were few, with Celtic winning games and controlling them reasonably well. To reiterate, the underlying performances were mediocre, but their relative control over games and decent finishing meant they were still picking up wins.


    But the average number of possessions began to grow, which tallies with the sense that Celtic were losing control of games as the ball changed hands more frequently. There was little shape and structure to their midfield, meaning the opposition could more easily win back possession and trigger counter-attacks.


    Similarly to xG, the downwards trend of possessions since Kennedy took over suggests a greater degree of control. Kennedy’s Celtic have their issues elsewhere.


    Defending set pieces…


    Celtic have habitually conceded from set pieces this season. However, surprisingly, it was as much of a problem last season as it was this year, as indicated in the tables below. After 28 games last season Celtic had conceded 10 goals from set pieces, a return of 0.36 per game. After 36 games this season, they have conceded 13, also a return of 0.36 per game.



    Relatively, for both seasons, Celtic have not conceded a barrage of chances from free kicks and corners, but somehow they are letting in goals at a higher rate than they should be.



    They sit joint third among the 12 Premiership teams for set-piece goals conceded in both the last two seasons. It has clearly been a major issue, which can be tied more deeply to problems of defensive organisation, the individual quality of defenders available, and the quality of goalkeeping mentioned earlier.


    That Celtic have conceded nearly double the number of chances from set pieces this season compared to last, despite playing just eight games more, also exacerbates the feeling of calamity around Celtic’s defence.


    There are, of course, areas where Celtic have declined that are not as succinctly captured in stats, such as poor recruitment and squad management, which we will address next week in the season review.

  3. squire danaher on

    CELTIC40ME on 24TH MAY 2021 1:24 PM



    It’s easy to forget that every Celtic manager since Gordon Strachan has had to face European qualifiers as early as our next boss will have to. Ronnie Deila’s was earlier





    The following is based on the above P67 article and reference to The Celtic Wiki.



    Deila appointed 6/6/2014, first UEFA qualifier 15/7/2014 – 39 days.



    Mowbray 16/6/2009, 29/7/2009 – 43 days



    Strachan 1/6/2005, 27/7/2005 – 57 days



    None of the three managed to win two rounds of qualifying, respectively losing to Legia Warsaw (but reinstated on appeal), Arsenal and obv Artmedia Bratislava in first round.



    Today being 24th May, we have a maximum of of 58 days until our first leg tie on 20th-21st May.



    We are already into Strachan territory and show no sign of appointing a manager after 3 months without one and the need for a new manager having been obvious for months before.

  4. TOMMOCELT on 24TH MAY 2021 12:59 PM


    Paul 67




    Perhaps that’s why P L has cost the club over £100.000000 PLUS in lost champions league revenue? clue there for someone who got paid quite a substantial wage (and of course the new CEO). Fail to prepare Prepare to FAIL !!!




    It’s easy criticism to blame Peter Lawwell, or the Board, or indeed DD.



    On four occasions we went into a final CL qualifying game in a winnable position – that’s four times ninety-minutes away from £30m (4×£30m=£120m).



    Up to that point who would have argued that the strategy was wrong? In our position it is just not possible to speculate £30m in the hope of getting it back in the CL groups.



    In one-game ‘winner takes all’ matches, it’s down to the players and management who got the club to that position to finish the job. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. It’s called the ‘uncertainty factor in sport’ – something over the past couple of months has been the basis of principled opposition to the proposed ESL.



    Having said that, at the start of this season we kept a winning squad intact, foregoing transfer fees for Edouard & Ajer of c£30m….and handed the manager £20m to ‘strengthen” – that was a c£50m investment on winning 10iar. Players & management MUST ‘carry the can’ for our abysmal surrender.



    There have been wrong-turnings taken over the last fifteen years – however there have been infinitely more correct ones, that led to us enjoying the second most successful period in our history.



    Criticism is good – but it must be constructive and balanced. Much of what is directed at DD, PL & the Board, is neither.

  5. The only thing that I hang on to about the appointment of EH is that if it was a no go then someone around EH would be briefing such.

  6. How could anyone in the position of buying or selling players for the club make the error of getting contract end wrong , what is this going to cost the club unbelievable


    Negligence. As well as agreeing to a 50% sell on clause . If ever there was a case for a sacking thats it there .

  7. EKBHOY Cheers mate.you inspired me.



    Bada,read Hugh’s article.the guy hits the nail on the head.hun fans are more scared than they portray hence the show of strength at george square.all the dafties have done is bring more change.

  8. SQUIRE DANAHER on 24TH MAY 2021 1:55 PM



    Even Brendan Rodgers lost his first game against the team from Gibraltar and and he signed for us on 20 May. All three rounds were a heart attack, we were an away goal from going out against Astana and Beer Sheva.



    I guess we could have given ourselves a better chance of qualifying this year by appointing someone in March, but if, as seems likely that would have been an inferior choice to the man we’ll get I’m glad we’ve waited.



    As has been pointed out the odds are long that we’ll make the cL this season, even with the best manager the teams were likely to come up against will be better than us. Given the big rebuilding job we keep hearing about I’m happier to look a little longer term than an unlikely qualification for the cL, and take a bit longer to make sure we have as good as we can get for the next few years.

  9. JHB,



    Imo, this is the biggest underachieving squad ever to play for Celtic for about 30 years.


    We had the talent and we invested heavily. Last year many of us were stating certain players were not giving 100%.


    I believe that to be the case and that cannot be easily forgotten or forgiven.


    This is not hindsight, it was patiently obvious and many of us called it out at the time.



    International players of which the squad is made up from did not give International type performances.



    Still gutted.




  10. timmy7_noted on

    JHB on 24th May 2021 1:57 pm



    “Criticism is good – but it must be constructive and balanced.”



    That is your best yet, maybe you should try applying that to your own posts?

  11. JHB on 24TH MAY 2021 1:57 PM



    At the risk of playing the man and not the ball, it’s £40m we’ve missed out on isn’t it?

  12. squire danaher on

    ST TAMS on 24TH MAY 2021 2:01 PM





    I can assure you just now that we will not qualify for CL






    Where did I suggest even the remotest expectation we will qualify for the CL?



    If we can’t get past AEK Athens, Cluj or Ferencvaros over the last 3 years, how can we beat the likes of Rapid Vienna, Galatasaray or Sparta Prague? We couldn’t beat the latter’s reserves this season.



    Anyway, for those who like to ponder these things, of relevance to Celtic’s seeding is tonight’s conclusion to the Danish Superliga.


    I think from a purely Celtic perspective we’d like Brondby to win as this would mean we’d be seeded for the first 2 rounds.







  13. squire danaher on

    CELTIC40ME on 24TH MAY 2021 2:18 PM



    Thanks for civil response. I had overlooked Rodgers purely because I had focussed on the others P67 named.



    I think you’re displaying a more kindly disposition to our current situation than I am prepared to allow our custodians.



    I do not buy this “Huns are going bust” argument because they’ve been going bust for the last 10 years and as long as they can issue confetti shares and there’s no proper investigation into their finances they’re still in the game.



    I don’t think we can afford them to have two years CL group stage finances over us. Say what you like. Beale and Gerrard have exhibited a track record of performing acceptably in Europe against the kind of opposition they will need to beat to make the CL Group stage. And they only have negotiate two rounds this year and straight through next year.

  14. I’ve been looking at the Transfermarkt site for the contract situation of Bournemouth players who may fancy a link up with their ex-gaffer:-



    According to Transfermarkt, the following have contracts expiring at the end of June 2021-



    Steve Cook- CB valued at £6.3m


    Adam Smith – RB valued at £3.6m


    Jack Wilshere – CM- £2.25m


    Junior Stanislas- Left winger – £1.62m


    Rodrigo Riquelme- RW – £1.62m



    They have 2 players on loan whose contracts with Bournemouth end next week-



    Cameron Carter-Vickers- CB from Spurs £1.8m


    Shane Long – CF from Southampton- £1.35m



    Others of interest include-



    Asmir Begovic (GK) has a year to run on his contract. Surprisingly is only 33 – £1.8m


    Diego Rico- LB- a year to run valued at £4.2m



    Of those, we might be interested in Cook and Stanislas and I would add Begovic to the list. Not sure about Wilshere who was a very good player but is, perhaps on a downward spiral. Would welcome views from those who see more Championship football.

  15. “ST TAMS on 24TH MAY 2021 2:01 PM


    I can assure you just now that we will not qualify for CL”





    Oh, no you can`t !!

  16. squire danaher on

    TIMMY7_NOTED on 24TH MAY 2021 2:20 PM



    JHB on 24th May 2021 1:57 pm




    “Criticism is good – but it must be constructive and balanced.”



    That is your best yet, maybe you should try applying that to your own posts?






    “constructive and balanced.”



    I thought the exact thing myself as I choked on my lunch.



    I made a point of not responding as he tells everyone I’m stalking him.

  17. JHB on 24TH MAY 2021 1:57 PM



    JHB my biggest criticism of P L and the ( blue pound board) is LYING to shareholders about 5 way agreement and treatment of the res 12 Boys will never ever forgive them !!!!!

  18. SQUIRE DANAHER on 24TH MAY 2021 2:31 PM



    Nobody is referencing the Huns in all this except for you.



    But seeing as you have, I agree – next year’s league is even more crucial. That’s why getting the right manager in for the whole season is of paramount importance and takes precedence over short term concerns like a a CL qualifier that we’re unlikely to be successful in.



    In the question of dithering in the past, how co d we have appointed any of the managers we’re talking about any sooner?

  19. Squire – We’re in the non-champions qualifying path, so 2nd place is more relevant to us.



    For those interested, I’ve run the figures through my calculational number-machinator erm…..machine, and the results aren’t good. Based on current expectations of teams involved Celtic have around a 9% chance of qualifying. Sevco have a 34% chance.



    Don’t hate the maths.

  20. squire danaher on







    34 yo. On EPL wages.



    Last 5 seasons at Southampton



    53 EPL starts, 12 goals.



    Packed off to Bournemouth on deadline day in January 2 goals in 4 starts and 8 sub appearances.



    Our football company has often joked on why the Absentee Landlord has never shown an interest in him.



    Check out the injury record on the link.

  21. squire danaher on

    CELTIC40ME on 24TH MAY 2021 2:39 PM



    I did not intend to suggest you were talking about or referencing the Huns. I did reference them from the perspective of them being, in the first instance, the main obstacle to us accessing the CL.



    The rights and wrongs of that are another argument entirely.






    I hear what you say about building for the future and getting in the right man. I personally think that – assuming for the purposes of this argument they have set their stall out for Howe – there must have been someone else who would fit the bill.



    I think I would’ve preferred someone in sooner irrespective of Howe’s supposed competence. I can’t imagine we couldn’t have found someone competent.



    I think the club has basically wasted the second half of this season and they are endangering next season.



    Your last point – I don’t think we’ve been looking at anyone else apart from Howe. Personally I think he’s playing us for fools and even if he does deign to eventually take the job he’ll be off back to the EPL at the first opportunity.

  22. Go tell the Spartim on

    Out of interest how long is long enough for a manager/coach.


    To be kind you could say we realised we needed a new manager since October, even December if your really blinkered, and here we are on the cusp of June, is it still too soon.



    CL isn’t factored into any financial projections which is good as we don’t plan to be in them, jam tomorrow excuses ten a pennie

  23. quadrophenian on

    AN TEARMANN on 24TH MAY 2021 1:45 PM – nice observations.



    A qualifier for one of your points tho:


    ‘No more. Rangers have become isolated. The club and the fans have become the targets of contempt, vilification and wounding humour. ‘



    Erm mibby naw…



    They’re still being backed and supported – staunchly – by a complicit media happy to populate the myths in exchange for the odd jolly at the Argyle stadium restaurant. The Sevco may not be the revered institution that it once was but – as we surely all see – as long as it’s being aided and abetted by every other institution in the porridge republic (Cops, Finance, Gov, Legal etc) they’ll never be held accountable for the manifest pochling they have and continue to perpetrate from bodgy transfer deals, to bogus racism stances and Covid breaches.




  24. squire danaher on

    SONSOFERIN on 24TH MAY 2021 2:40 PM






    I meant that if Brondby or Midtjylland were to be champs we would be seeded for two rounds. If Copenhagen win it we would be seeded for only one.



    It’s an academic argument IMO anyway.




    Thanks for that. Informative and intriguing.



    PS If the predictions of the more pessinmistic CQNers prove correct, we will need all those players !!

  26. SQUIRE DANAHER on 24TH MAY 2021 2:52 PM



    I can’t imagine we couldn’t have found someone competent.



    If course we could have, but there are levels of competence, and it doesn’t take much imagination to envisage a situation where we couldn’t find anyone better.



    Anyway, I’m glad to see you’re willing to give him a chance if he were to come. :)

  27. Quadrophenian


    post 1 was the herald


    post 2 was the athletic



    bettet posting than wi a link mate




  28. squire danaher on

    CELTIC40ME on 24TH MAY 2021 3:08 PM



    If Howe comes then all well and good.



    Allowing for potential contract issues, nonetheless he has hardly bowled me over with his enthusiasm thus far.

  29. SQUIRE DANAHER on 24TH MAY 2021 3:13 PM



    I really hope Eddie Howe comes, but he is really eating away at his goodwill factor.




  30. SQUIRE DANAHER on 24TH MAY 2021 3:13 PM



    Please dont tell anyone this but he told me he was really looking forward to the challenge and in particular to proving you wrong :)

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