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‘ROY’S MY BHOY,’ LISBON LION GEMMELL

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TOMMY GEMMELL admits he is disappointed not to be mentioned among the candidates for the Celtic manager’s job.

The Hoops legend, now 72, joked: “Everyone seems to be getting a nod to become Ronny Deila’s successor – except me!

“Okay, I haven’t managed for awhile since leaving Albion Rovers in 1994, but I must be worth a shout.

“Seriously, though, this is a decision my old club MUST get right.

“They have to get the ideal man in place as soon as possible to give him a chance to settle in, analyse the playing squad and detect where it needs strengthening. And there can be no argument the player pool does need fresh blood.

“I’ve looked at all the runners and riders and they’re all very interesting. I’m sure there are a few who have been linked with the post who could do a job for Celtic.

“My favourite is Roy Keane. Yes, I am aware he had talks two years ago before Ronny Deila got the job and I know, too, he wasn’t exactly a roaring success in his previous managerial stints at Sunderland and Ipswich Town.

“However, I believe he has the character and personality required to turn things around. I reckon the Irishman is strong mentally as well as physically.

“You take one look at him and you see a leader, someone who will meet a challenge head on, someone who will not fall apart when the going gets tough.”

The Lisbon Lion watched in dismay at his former team’s feeble capitulation in the Scottish Cup semi-final on Sunday.

He said: “I’m not having a go at Deila, but things needed to be done to rectify things early in the first-half when the Ibrox side put down markers all over the pitch.

“They were dominating in midfield, snapping into every challenge, working their socks off and looking by far the hungrier set of players.

“Scott Brown, Stefan Johansen and Gary Mackay-Steven were being overrun in there and Deila should have done something after 10 minutes or so.

“I see that he called his team ‘passive’ in that opening 45 minutes. However, he shouldn’t have been waiting to get his players in the dressing room at the interval to point that out.

“It was obvious where things were going wrong for Celtic almost immediately after the kick-off. 

“I could hardly believe what I was witnessing. In fact, if I hadn’t known better, I would have thought the teams had switched leagues and the Ibrox outfit were the guys at the top of the Premiership.

“That’s how far out of it Celtic were at Hampden. I was looking for Deila to make changes early on, but the only one he made was forced on him when Dedryck Boyata limped off and Erik Sviatchenko came on.

“Why the Danish defender wasn’t on from the start is anyone’s guess. It was the waste of a substitution when it would have been handy to have someone around on an occasion where extra-time might be required.

“I couldn’t see a guy such as Roy Keane standing beside the dug-out with his hands in his pockets while watching that first-half performance.

“He would have been getting his message across in no uncertain manner and it would have been a case of pitying the players who chose to ignore him.”

Gemmell added: “The new man will need money, of course, to bolster the squad and the club must make cash available.

“I’m sure they will, too, but I don’t think they’ll be extravagant.

“Will that put off someone with the ambitions of Keane? Remember, he wasn’t slow in getting Sunderland to write a cheque for £9million to make Craig Gordon Britain’s most expensive goalkeeper when he signed from Hearts in 2007.

“So, he will demand financial muscle. I hope whoever comes in gets that backing from the powers-that-be.

“Listen, Celtic aren’t buying for the competition in Scotland – they’ve got to look at Europe. That’s where my old team deserve to operate, in among the big boys.

“The fact that Deila failed twice to get through the Champions League qualifiers ultimately helped to end his career in Glasgow.

“Even if he had won a league and Cup double this season, would he have been entrusted with a third go at cracking Europe?

“Remember, failure to do so on the previous two occasions cost Celtic upwards of £40million. With that money guaranteed, the club might have done more to hold onto the likes of Fraser Forster and Virgil van Dijk.

“Both were key players and huge favourites with the fans, but were sold to Southampton with a reported £23million going into the Parkhead coffers.

“If Deila had got the team past Maribor and Malmo – hardly two giants of the European game – Celtic could have banked the Champions League windfall, kept the players and still had cash to spare.

“The Europa League campaign was an absolute embarrassment with the club finishing rock-bottom without a solitary win.

“In short, that’s simply unacceptable. I believe Roy Keane, given the proper resources, is the man to get Celtic moving in the right direction again.

“Surely we can’t blow the league with only five games to go and with an eight-point advantage over Aberdeen?

“So, we’re looking at the new manager getting an immediate opportunity to improve on anything Deila managed in his two years.

“However, as I have already stated, Celtic must get this decision spot on. The alternative isn’t worth thinking about.”

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