Thomas Harris takes a look at the potential candidates for the Celtic managerial position after a disastrous season.
On 24 February, Neil Lennon announced that his two-year spell as the manager of Celtic would be coming to an end. Lennon has been a familiar face around Parkhead for a long time now, making his first player appearance for the club in 2000. In his managerial career, Lennon has generally enjoyed the traditional success Celtic supporters have become accustomed to, including five league titles. However, following an uncharacteristically poor run for the club’s lofty standards this season, Lennon has, for the second time in the club’s history, stepped down as manager. With Rangers currently celebrating ending Celtic’s nine straight league victories, Celtic will be looking for a new manager in an effort to close that gap and return to normality in Glasgow.
One possible candidate for the job is the ex-Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe. Despite coming off the back of relegation from the Premier League last term, Howe has still proven himself to be a competent manager with a lot of potential. Howe enjoyed a degree of success with Bournemouth, leading them to promotion from the Championship and some respectable premier league finishes thereafter, highlighted by their ninth place finish in the 2016-17 season. In the Premier League, Bournemouth never boasted one of the stronger squads but under the guidance of Howe, were able to get valuable wins against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United with players like Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser able to show their talents and really establish themselves as Premier League quality players. Still young for a manager, Howe has shown a lot of potential and could be a good fit to develop further at Parkhead.
An alternative to Howe and an option closer to home is current Scotland manager: Steve Clark. In recent times Scotland’s national team have underwhelmed, failing to qualify for most major competitions. Under Clark however, things are improving as evidenced by Scotland’s qualification for the 2020 Euros, scheduled for this Summer. Under Clark, Scotland was able to qualify in dramatic fashion with a penalty win over Serbia, a side boasting some top-quality midfield talent. Clark has shown he can take an underwhelming side and improve their fortunes. So perhaps, he could do a similar job with Celtic in getting them back on the track to domestic success.
While there are a number of other potential names being suggested, one final surprise option is the current head of the Man City Academy group Enzo Maresca. With rumours flying around the east end of Glasgow, that Fergal Harkin, current Manchester City football partnership and pathways manager, is nearing a move for a lucrative director of football position, it wouldn’t be too farfetched to imagine highly regarded Italian coach Maresca to join Harkin up the road. Former assistant manager of Sevilla and key ex-background staff of West Ham, football genius Pep Guardiola is known to be a big fan of the Italian, poaching him from West Ham. With no experience in the managerial hot seat in senior football, is it too soon for the young Italian coach, or could this be exactly the fresh start Celtic need?
With a fairly extensive list of potential candidates, appointing the right individual will be a difficult task for the club’s hierarchy. A number of managers boasting experience and past success are available for selection but establishing who is truly the best fit for this squad will take time and planning from the backroom staff. Next season is a long way away though and the side’s performances under Kennedy will be pivotal in determining who will be Celtic’s manager next season and what players will be remaining, in what is expected to be the biggest rebuild the club has witnessed in its modern and extremely successful history.
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