Dr Jo’s season against £32m financially doped opponent


History records that Celtic won nothing in season 1998-99 as Rangers, their former rivals, won the domestic treble, but the record books never tell the whole story.  Jozef Venglos, Dr Jo, was appointed Celtic manager on 17 July 1998, five days before our first (ever) Champions League qualification game.  He had little time get to know the players, never mind prepare for the challenges ahead.

Having lost the title the previous season for the first time in a decade, Rangers reacted by spending £32m in the transfer market, and kids, that was a time when £32m was a LOT of money.  Into an already talented Ibrox dressing room arrived two who won the World Cup that summer: Guivarc’h and Charbonnier, the German national team keeper, Klos, Numan, van Bronckhorst, Hendry, Kanchelskis, Amato and the legendary Daniel Prodan.

As a consequence, Dr Jo was never going to win the league that season, however, the talent he added on a £7m budget was significant: Lubo Moravcik, ‘Marko’ Viduka, Johan Mjallby and a loaner keeper, Tony Warner, who played a memorable cameo.

14 matches into the league campaign, Celtic had yet to win successive games when Rangers came to Celtic Park.  Mjallby made his debut with Moravcik playing his third game.  Lubo and Henrik Larsson destroyed Rangers as Celtic ran out 5-1 winners.  It was a tough season to be a Celtic supporter, but not totally joyless.  We finished the season playing brilliant, attacking, football.

Fergus McCann later noted that he wished he met Dr Jo earlier in his time in charge of Celtic.  The Slovak brought a knowledge of scouting, sports science (mocked by Craig Burley) and tactical awareness not seen, even under the more-feted Wim Jansen season.  Despite winning nothing, the fans also knew how Dr Jo upped our game against a financially doped opponent.

In the summer of 1999, new major shareholder, Dermot Desmond, appointed Kenny Dalglish director of football.  On paper the Dalglish appointment looked wise.  Kenny had won the English Premiership with two different clubs, repeatedly getting the better of Alex Ferguson.  It was not wise, not in the slightest.  Kenny wanted rookie John Barnes as manager, a mistake that cost Dermot a substantial sum to put right in a subsequent £25m share issue.  Oh how we missed Dr Jo, may he rest in peace.

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  1. Italian club vying for wee Jeremie, glad the boy has some interest in him . a terrific wee player who no doubt in my mind will flourish under the correct system and manager .

  2. onenightinlisbon on

    I remember Keevans and that twat George Bowie on Radio Clyde mocking Dr Jo at every turn. Keevans putting on a mock accent and Bowie laughing with him. Disgraceful, as was the media’s treatment of him throughout his time at Celtic. A true gentleman without doubt.

  3. Pingback: Dr Jo’s season against £32m financially doped opponent | Celtic FC News Now

  4. Nice obituary James Forrest(previous article)



    I like your point that it isn’t all about trophies.



    Smith won a lot of trophies with very little opposition until 95/96. Over-praised



    Celtic have done the 9 with no big rival in 4 of those and the first 2 Rodgers titles had the huns in re-build mode. Not as hard as the first 9IAR



    McLeish won trophies while benefitting from EBTs and loads of luck. No legend



    For me it is how you impact the club to take it up a level or maintain the level during change.


    that’s why O’Neill and Rodgers stand out in our recent history; O’Neill took us up several levels to compete and Rodgers made us unbeatable domestically (shame about Europe)



    Dr Jo did improve us after a lack of pre season and could have continued that in 99/00 in my view. Would have given MON an easier hand even though he didn’t need it



    Lennon won a treble and we should praise him for that but it required a lot of luck to squeeze it through (IMHO). The reason he is not getting the credit he clearly believes he is due is because we can all see the house of cards falling and he can’t



    PS i remember talking Owen Coyle on the transfer bus from my plane to Arrivals in Glasgow before a game. He was very clear that with the huns gone , Neil Lennon had to win a treble. This was in 2013/14 when we had already lost a LC final to Killie the previous year and gone out of LC to St Mirren in semi. We went out the cup that year to Hearts as well. Neil got his Treble with a strong huns in the league so he should feel vindicated but realise he has peaked

  5. Approx 60 million in today’s money or 1/5 of the financial advantage we have wasted over that lot from the south of Glasgow .in the last 10 years

  6. Hazard


    ( i would play Bain tho. )



    Ralston Welsh Ajer Taylor



    Henderson Soro Mcgregor






    Eddy ( Harper ) Johnston.

  7. RIP Dr Venglos.



    “ 1998, five days before our first (ever) Champions League qualification game”



    Imagine appointing a new manager with little or not time to prepare for Champions League qualifiers while overseeing a squad rebuild.



    At least we’ve learned from our past mistakes…

  8. Rest in Peace Doctor Jo, If only you had been given a level playing field perhaps you would have taken us to great heights. But in was not to be as you were up against EBTs and other things that made creating a good team difficult for you here.

  9. Kenny wanted rookie John Barnes as manager, a mistake that cost Dermot a substantial sum to put right in a subsequent £25m share issue.



    That will be the same Kenny who gave us 4 years as a first team player and spent the next two agitating for a transfer, the first year of which had Mr Stein fighting for his life.



    The same Kenny who took Murray’s money to act as a “consultant”.



    The same Kenny who every weekend crops up on Celtic cyberspace banging on about The O – – F – – – in the Sunday Post.

  10. Dr Joe Venglos was ahead of his time, and indeed ahead of the game when he arrived at Aston Villa in 1990, and that is precisely while he failed in the one season he was there. The players needed old school managers like Graham Taylor and Big Ron Atkinson, and to be fair to them they both did well there. But it was Joe who paved the way for Houllier and Wenger. It was Joe who brought in more modern ideas re diet and fitness and how they were connected. Like many Europeans he could not understand how professional players could not wait to hit the booze after a match. Not sure what he thought about late night kebabs, though they do have a Euro provenance. It is a pity he was not around longer at Celtic, replaced by a novice and shortly after that by another old school manager who could deliver the goods, Martin O’Neill. One of the finest men ever to walk through Parkhead’s gates.



    RIP Dr Joe

  11. Andy Patons Mullet on

    RIP Dr Jo – another talent cast aside by the club when . The treatment received then and now by Celtic has never changed and all to keep the hun hordes buying their rags or listening to their phone ins. And to think we laugh at the yanks with Fox News…



    I remember Keevans and that twat George Bowie on Radio Clyde mocking Dr Jo at every turn. Keevans putting on a mock accent and Bowie laughing with him. Disgraceful, as was the media’s treatment of him throughout his time at Celtic. A true gentleman without doubt




    I remember well that Venglos was ridiculed by nomarks in the Scottish media (as most connected with Celtic are). My memory isn’t what it used to be, but recall being at St Johnstone and losing 2-0. That was the final nail for us and we had struggled after losing lubo to injury in a few games. I also thought regi blinker had done well, after lubo’s injury and then he too was out. I might be waffling, of course 🤔

  13. RIP Dr Jo, he never really stood a chance



    Pertinent final paragraph. Get the right men in however long it takes

  14. CONNAIRE12



    Your moniker brings back a smile from a fleeting moment in Rome , where i managed a few words with you in the church after mass , oh how we ( Celtic ) have fallen since then .



    Hope your in good health , a lovely man and a true gent ……thanks for the advice (Lourdes and visiting the Pope) .

  15. JAMES FORREST on 27TH JANUARY 2021 11:26 AM. Previous Article.



    Magnificent tribute to Jozef Venglos.



  16. PeterLatchfordsBelly on

    Financial doping eh? What can you do but look the other way on EBTs, the 5WA and LNS? And perhaps even money laundering from the Far East.



    Oh, you could wring your hands on a blog.

  17. And another thing Dr Joe Venglos was our manager when Celtic appeared for the first and probably last time on the Saturday night MOTD


    Celtic 5 Rangers 1 November 21st 1998


    A Demolition Derby Day never to be forgotten

  18. onenightinlisbon on

    ZIGGYDOC1 on 27TH JANUARY 2021 12:59 PM



    He never stood a chance against the might Murray MSM.

  19. @ Celtic Wiki



    The appointment of Dr Jozef Venglos as Celtic Head Coach to succeed Wim Jansen came as a complete surprise when it was announced on 17 July 1998.



    The tabloids were quick to ask in predictably mocking tones, ‘Dr Who?’ with the infamous and derogatory ‘Celtic sign a blank Czech’ headline by the Daily Record. Despite being the head of the European Coaches Union, a member of FIFA’s technical committee at France ’98, and despite having coached Czechoslovakia to European Championship success 1976 and the quarter finals of the World Cup at Italia ’90, very few Celtic fans knew a great deal about him.



    The dignified Slovak had also coached at such clubs as Sporting Lisbon, Aston Villa, and Fenerbahce, but this counted for nothing as far as the press were concerned. He had a hard challenge in front of him, and many fans were irate at the time it took to land the new man.



    All the indications before his appointment were that Venglos was not the first choice. It appears that that distinction belonged to Egil Olsen, who initially agreed to take the job but then backed out for reasons which are still not entirely clear. Egil Olsen has claimed it was due to the 3 month quarantine rules for his dog, and he wouldn’t do it. In any case, it looks like Celtic got a lucky escape as his previous role was as Norway manager which saw that side play the long ball game to the letter (very dull football) and his career afterwards was nothing much to write home about.



    Hampered by the lateness of his own appointment, a severe injury crisis (exacerbated by the World Cup), a bonus row, and a much delayed entry into the transfer market, Venglos got off to a worryingly poor start. Only three of the first ten league matches were won, the team made an ignominious early exit from the League Cup, and after failing to qualify for the Champions League, matters reached a head on 3 November 1998 with the disastrous loss to Zurich in the UEFA Cup.



    One immediate casualty was General Manager Jock Brown, but Venglos’ own job was hanging by a thread when Celtic faced Rangers at Parkhead on 21 November. Strengthened by the signings of Riseth, Mjallby and Moravcik, Venglos’ team responded with an unforgettable 5-1 thrashing of Rangers, which went down in history as “The Humping!”. That gave Venglos much needed breathing space and results gradually improved. The support was very much behind him now and grew to love him.



    A major setback occurred when the long-sought after new striker, Mark Viduka, went AWOL immediately after completing his transfer, and the team promptly lost 2-1 to Hearts at Tynecastle. After the winter break, Celtic began to play some of the most exhilarating football seen in years, with Larsson in stupendous form. Notably, it was Venglos who converted Larsson into the free-run central striker that was to make him a legend. Some would argue it was more Venglos than even Jansen who really set off Larsson onto the road to greatness.



    The biggest problem for Venglos was to turn around the team having started late in his job. When he brought in players, they could be sublime (Lubo and even the much maligned Viduka) but other players need time to bed in, and he had no lengthy pre-season to settle the squad of players and embed some tactics into their general play. There were numerous great performances through the season and we racked up high scores against many sides, such as a 7-1 win over Motherwell and a 5-1 win over Aberdeen, so it was highly entertaining to watch.



    However, at the end, it was always asking a lot to make up the lost ground in the title race, and the challenge faltered on 24 April with a 1-0 defeat by St Johnstone which brought a long healthy run of performances to an end.



    The league title was conceded in traumatic circumstances at Parkhead on 2 May in a controversial match v Rangers which was lost 3-0. The shocking performance by the referee (Hugh Dallas) was overshadowed by his being coined by an idiot supporter. That incident took the focus off of what was a bad refereeing performance onto our support, and the referee and Rangers got away with it.



    The Scottish Cup remained the sole hope of consolation but in the final against Rangers, a much criticised team selection failed to rise to the occasion, giving an insipid performance which left many muttering darkly about the Head Coach’s future.



    Must add about the treatment met out to him by the press. Venglos was quite a placid gentleman in comparison to his counterpart at Rangers, yet he was the one being personally attacked and mocked too often. It was a slight on the state of Scottish football and journalism the way that Venglos was treated.



    On signing Lubo, the amount of mockery that was aimed at him was ridiculous with media commentators ignorant on the player and using his transfer as a way to take cheapshots at Venglos. How Lubo proved them wrong, but the underlying media attacks on Venglos should not after be brushed under the carpet.



    Venglos was simply done by this point and had to handle too much. He did state that he wanted to continue but it was best that he stepped down for his own sake.



    It says much for the genuine esteem in which Venglos was held that he was able to retain much of his dignity even after the new management team of Kenny Dalglish and John Barnes was installed a short while later. Venglos retained employment at Celtic, moving to the newly created post of European Technical Advisor, however nobody seems to know what he actually did in this role for the club in later years. The position was likely nominal and given out of respect.



    Most of the circumstances surrounding his season in charge were unfortunate, but many had felt at the outset that he was never really the man for the long-run for this most demanding of jobs given his age. In truth, he wasn’t a man to stick around. In around a 32 year period he had been involved with numerous different clubs & international sides. So it wasn’t necessarily just age which was to possibly stop him from carrying on, as his history showed he was one to like to move around.



    Regardless, he was highly respected by Chairman Fergus McCann (who was not an easy man to please for team managers), and McCann stated that Venglos was the manager he worked with that he favoured the most (and McCann worked with far more than he should have in his own short tenure).



    The Celtic support all grew to respect Venglos a great deal and hoped him the very best.



    He passed away in January 2021, and will be very fondly recalled by all.



    Hail Hail

  20. GENE on 27TH JANUARY 2021 1:05 PM





    But get rid of the wrong ones quickly.




    Only if they get replaced by better.

  21. Paul points out that Rangers spent £32m in the transfer window in which Dr Jo was appointed for season 1998/99.



    In the 2 prior financial years they declared losses of 1997 £20.513m and 1998 £12.491m , a total of £33.004m which already gave them a strong squad way beyond affordability.



    So, allowing for transfers in/out and any off the park expenditure they incurred, he was up against £65m investment.



    He lost the league due to this but we know what Rangers lost due to this. I hope he had a little smile in 2012.

  22. Sad news for Celtic Fans. Dr Jo Venglos almost managed to level the playing field and gave us some fantastic memories! 😊



    Requiescat in Pace Dr Jo, and enjoy the craic with Johnny Madden! 😊 🧣🍀

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