JOHN BARNES paid the ultimate penalty for the inexplicable Scottish Cup loss to Inverness Caley Thistle on February 8 2000 when he was sacked only eight months into the job.

Celtic now had to pick up the pieces from the debris left in the fall-out of the most humiliating result in the club’s history.

In another CQN EXCLUSIVE series, we focus on how the Parkhead club attempted to recover from the reverberations of such a catastrophic defeat, a sensational nosedive that brought an urgent transformation that propelled Celtic into a new era.

Here is Part Ten of edited extracts from Celtic author Alex Gordon’s tribute book, ‘The Winds of Change‘, which was published by CQN in 2015.

Please enjoy.

ACCORDING to Chief Executive Allan MacDonald, John Barnes came to him the midst of the confusion of the collapse against Caley Thistle and asked: “What do I do next?”

MacDonald replied: “I don’t know, but I’ll let you know.”

Stories of the rumpus in the dressing room had reached the ears of the press who wanted to know more. Barnes answered: “We had a bit of a problem. There was a situation, so there is no real point in hiding that fact.

“It was a serious situation and there will be meetings about it in the coming days. After that, we’ll release a statement.”

Kenny Dalglish had missed the debacle after spending time in La Manga where he had a holiday home. MacDonald made it clear he would have preferred the club’s Director of Football Operations to be at Parkhead on the evening of a Scottish Cup-tie.

“I asked him not to go,” admitted the club supremo. Dalglish returned the following day as MacDonald stepped into the breach. He planned to put the club icon in charge of the team.

SNOWED UNDER…Kenny Dalglish takes over managerial duties at Celtic for the match at Dens Park. 

He said: “That was the solution. That was me saying to the Director of Football Operations: ‘You run the show because he [Barnes] wasn’t managing the dressing room.’ Kenny comes back and John works for Kenny. But John refused, so he was fired.”

Eric Black and Terry McDermott were also shown the door. Shortly before was sacked, Barnes was allowed to spend £5million on a Brazilian centre-half by the name of Rafael Scheidt from Gremio. He came with glowing recommendations and three full caps for his nation.

No-one had taken into consideration that, back in the nineties, Brazil were sponsored by soft drinks giants Coca-Cola who insisted on the team playing one game practically every month. All sorts of players up and down the country received caps for non-event friendly internationals.

Scheidt also claimed he had knocked back AC Milan to join Celtic. He started one first team game at the club – a 4-1 win over St Johnstone in March – and was booted into oblivion when Martin O’Neill took over.

Dalglish was quick to distance himself from the Scheidt deal. He said: “It was John who signed all the players at Celtic. I don’t know who was the worst although there were more bad ones than good ones.”

Allan MacDonald admitted there was “never a prospect” of Dalglish taking over as full-time manager of Celtic. The search for a new Head Coach had already been kicked into motion.

Only a seismic shift in his intentions would see Dalglish back in a dug-out in the new season. He would take charge of the team for the remainder of the campaign while also helping to identify a permanent successor to his departed friend.

Celtic fans concluded that three continuous days of acrimonious bloodletting were enough. The support, as they had done so considerately and with reaffirming regularity in the past, returned to active duty to back Dalglish and his beleaguered players when they travelled to Dens Park to take on Dundee in the next fixture four days after the Caley calamity.

They roared the team on, especially in the second period in which they lifted their side to three late goals and a deserved victory.

SNOW PROBLEM…Mark Viduka came back to Celtic action after his half-time no-show against Caley Thistle with a goal in the 3-0 win over Dundee in the treacherous conditions at Dens Park.

Dalglish took charge of a team for the first time since being sacked by Newcastle in September 1998. Six of the previous starting line-up were immediately sacrificed. Jonathan Gould was axed and Dmitri Kharine returned for only the third start of his Hoops career.

Regi Blinker got the chop, too, while Eyal Berkovic, Olivier Tebily, Colin Healy and Mark Burchill were relegated to the substitutes’ bench.

Dalglish, to the astonishment of many, elected to play Mark Viduka up front. The light drift of snow that had swirled around at kick-off time was now suitably thick in the second-half to warrant the introduction of an orange ball.

With only 23 minutes to go, Johan Mjallby headed in the first following a Lubomir Moravcik corner-kick. Two minutes later, Moravcik played a through ball to Viduka on the left wing, from where he cut inside before gliding a low right-foot shot into the corner of Rab Douglas’ net from outside the box.

WELL DONE…Kenny Dalglish congratulates Johan Mjallby after his opening goal at Dens Park.

The future Celt was beaten again eight minutes from time when substitute Healy skilfully lofted the ball over him from fully 35 yards.

Dalglish said: “The reception I and the players received from the fans was magnificent. That helped us win the game. What we have to do is to point the players in the right direction and we did that today and they responded well.

“I could not have asked for any more of a response from them. This was always going to be a difficult game because Dundee are a good side. So, to win by three goals was a good performance from the lads.

“I have to admit that I never thought I would be walking out of that Dens Park tunnel again.

“The last time I did it was as a player and, while I have been back often enough, it has been in the boardroom and the directors’ box . . . and that is a bit different.”

* TOMORROW: Don’t miss Result That Changed The Course Of Celtic History: Part Eleven.

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