I have no doubt this morning’s press reports on Celtic’s plans for the months ahead are correct. We are told the club “is planning an overhaul of their football operations in the summer that would see significant changes to their set-up.” There is a great deal you can surmise from that statement.
“Overhaul… of football operations”, “significant changes”, leaves zero doubt Neil Lennon will be moving on and suggests wider changes are likely. It is also safe to assume Neil is on-board with this and has agreed to remain in charge until the end of the season, or a suitable replacement arrives.
Neil would not go through this torture were it not out of a sense of responsibility towards the players, several of whom he personally convinced to stay for this ‘important season’. Malicious talk of holding out for a payoff is well wide of the mark.
What is also clear is that Celtic are not happy to appoint any manager who is prepared to come to the club right now. This precludes those out of work, or those who are not prepared to ‘Do a Brendan’ and leave their current project with trophies still to be won and lost.
The new industry is not always as helpful. Last night reports that betting was suspended on Eddie Howe getting the job received plenty of clicks. Eddie has his eyes on a different target and will almost certainly pick up an English Premiership job this year. He is as likely to come to Celtic as another fantasy appointment, Mauricio Pochettino, was, before choosing Paris when he could have made his home in Glasgow. If only it was that easy.
If we take the ‘Get real’ suggestions off the table, I know the photo fit you are working with. Someone who has over-performed in a different environment, who is technically razor sharp and can bring knowledge of a value market.
They will have a successful track record, one that is short enough that they have not already moved up the food chain, but one longer than Ronny Deila’s mercurial rise at Stromsgodset. We now know that the skills required to achieve one season of spectacular success is Norway does not automatically equip a manager for what on paper looks an easier task. The Goldilocks candidate, enough of a spectacular record, but not too much that they have already got their move.
The quick fix if Neil leaves is John Kennedy as interim or someone, like Ronny, who cannot believe he’s been offered the Celtic job. Or let Neil complete the season and attempt to add the Scottish Cup and leave his second term trophy report reading 6 out of 8. I am not recommending either option, it’s too complicated to sit on the outside and suggest a fix with any conviction – not matter how convinced this is an easy one, it’s not.
If Neil remains until the end of the season it will not be because he needs the money, or because he deserves the respect of a Celtic hero (although he does), it is because the business of succession has to be settled. My preference would be to spend these months doing reconnaissance; better to do it right than to do it early, but the galleries have loved a blood letting since the Colosseum, we know how it works.