The events of the last week will no doubt go down as some of the most dramatic and character defining moments in the recent history of Celtic Football Club. Sitting pretty at the top of the League table and with a third straight domestic Treble in sight, Brendan Rodgers decision to jump ship and head for the cash-laden English Premiership and mid-table obscurity with Leicester City, taking the majority of his coaching staff with him, had the potential to derail the Hoops season.
Thankfully, and at short-notice, Neil Lennon was on hand to step into the manager’s role once again on an interim basis as Celtic prepared for a difficult away encounter against Hearts at Tynecastle less than 36 hours after Rodgers walked out on the club he professed to love.
With his appointment, Lennon has maintained a sense of stability and business-as-normal at Celtic Park, securing impressive victories in his two games back at the helm thus far. Lennon, a dyed-in-the-wool Celt, is seen by many as the right choice to lead Celtic through this crucial stage of the season and, who knows, maybe on to that historic Treble Treble. However, opinion is divided over whether the man from Lurgan is the correct choice to lead Celtic to the fabled 10-in-a-row the fans desperately crave.
Securing the League and Scottish Cup would surely only serve to strengthen Lennon’s case for the job on a full-time basis, however, should Celtic claim an 8th successive title this season, then the appointment of the next permanent manager is not one that can be taken lightly for whoever the chosen one is, he will be expected to deliver the 10 and must have the temperament to do so. If it is not to be Neil Lennon, then who will be entrusted to do the job?
THE USUAL SUSPECTS
Clarke has rebuilt his reputation during a fantastic spell as Kilmarnock manager where he achieved the incredible feat of amassing the highest Scottish Premiership points tally in calendar year 2018. He has turned Kilmarnock from relegation candidates into contenders for European qualification.
Not known for playing attractive attacking football, Clarke’s success at Kilmarnock has been built on a back to basics approach which may not transfer well to Celtic Park. Furthermore, given his open displeasure at the sectarian abuse he has recently been subject to, it is unlikely that he will want to position himself even more in the firing line, potentially ruling his appointment as a non-starter.
Overlooked last time around, the name of David Moyes has once again been linked with the vacant Parkhead position. Moyes has previously stated his desire to take the reigns in Paradise at some point in his career and now may present the perfect opportunity for him to rebuild a reputation that has taken a hit following unsuccessful stints at Manchester United, Real Sociedad, and Sunderland.
Like Rodgers, there would be more than a hint of Moyes using Celtic as a stepping stone back to the English Premiership should he take the job and, like Clarke, his style of football is unlikely to excite the fans.
Having said that, a more pragmatic approach may be what is needed to steer Celtic through the next two campaigns.
A huge no from me on this one, but undoubtedly the name of Henrik Larsson will be among the front runners with the bookies. A true great as a player, the King of Kings has so far failed to hit the same heights as a manager following disappointing spells at Falkenberg and Helsingborg. To preserve his legendary reputation, Larsson should not be considered as a future Celtic manager for now, but perhaps a coaching role may be more suited.
German Marco Rose has established himself as one of the most exciting and progressive coaches in Europe over the past couple of seasons, a time in which he achieved great success with RB Salzburg. Rose’s sides are known for playing an exciting, attacking brand of football, with a ruthless edge that would be warmly received at Celtic Park; just like the man himself was during the recent Europa League encounter.
To prize Rose away from Salzburg, Celtic would need to fend off a number of other prospective suitors, while also guaranteeing to match the German’s domestic and European ambitions. In short, the Celtic hierarchy would need to prove that they are serious about moving the club forward.
Rose would clearly be a favourite among the support, so basically, it’s over to the board to make this one happen.
Wagner, who can count current Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp amongst his close friends and mentors, is an outside yet viable option following his decision to stand aside as manager of Huddersfield.
Like Klopp, he likes his team to play an intensive pressing game with the emphasis on taking the game to his opponents. Wagner achieved great success guiding Huddersfield and keeping them there last season before stepping down in January.
The mercurial Argentine would probably top the football purists list of preferred candidates thanks to his charismatic demeanour, attention to detail, and adherence to playing pure, beautiful, inventive football.
Bielsa is currently at the helm of sleeping giants Leeds United and is plotting a course to guide the Yorkshire side back to the Premiership for the first time since 2004. Should this target be met, it would be highly unlikely that he would refuse the opportunity to manage in the English top flight, however, the Argentine’s single-minded approach may also see him walk away from Leeds if promotion is not realised.
In such a scenario, Celtic would surely become an attractive proposition but, as with Marco Rose, Celtic would not be the only club knocking on El Loco’s door, but just imagine the ride with Bielsa in the dugout.
There’s always, of course, the possibility of an appointment out of left-field. Perhaps John Kennedy has been the brains behind the Rodgers Revolution all along and is now ready to step up boot room style.
Perhaps the work of Roberto D’Aversa in overseeing Parma’s fairytale return to Serie A has caught the eye; or maybe Domenico Tedesco’s marvellous debut season at Schalke has brought him to the attention of those in charge at Celtic. Could it be that Daniel Farke, currently at English Championship table toppers Norwich has won an admiring glance or two?
As it stands, Neil Lennon is in prime position to continue next season, but with Celtic, you just never know who the next man in charge will be.
Let me know who you think it should be and why?
Who is your dream pick, and who are we most likely to go for?