With all senior positions at the club up for grabs at the same time, Nick Hammond, Celtic’s Head of Football Operations, failed to get the Director of Football position, so left the club yesterday. We are yet to appoint a Director of Football, but with Hammond’s departure, it is likely a candidate has been identified and at least informally confirmed.
The Head of Football Operation’s principle role is to identify signing prospects for the club. Since Hammond joined in October 2019, Celtic have performed particularly poorly in this respect, as a consequence, his reputation among the support suffered. Unfairly.
As in any operation, it is easy to scapegoat and easier still to blame the guy who is no longer in the building, but Hammond was only in position four months before travel restrictions stopped him travelling internationally to watch players. It is not a period many would want to be judged on.
Furthermore, the poster boy signing mistakes of this season were nothing (or practically nothing) to do with Hammond. He did not suggest Vasilis Barkas as a target or put his name to the goalkeeper. Similarly, the blame for Shane Duffy cannot be laid at his door. It is also easy for the guy no longer in the building to blame others. When Nick sits in his next job interview, he will tell the story of what might have been, had Celtic signed his personal targets.
Given what I know about the merits of Hammond and Lee Congerton, the chief scout who proceeded Hammond at the club and shared most responsibilities, I would take Hammond all summer long.
The revamp of football operations, scouting and player development has been long in the planning, Hammond played his role here well. Getting the right person as Director of Football is critically important, but I do not subscribe to the guru theory of management. Getting strategy right is everything, the names on the doors, less so.