Who Will Be Celtic’s Next Permanent Manager?

Neil Lennon is on the brink as Celtic manager amid a disastrous season with the Bhoys way off the pace in the Scottish Premiership and already out of Europe. The pressure is mounting on their manager, but who will replace him should he get the sack?

Who Will Be Celtic’s Next Permanent Manager?

Next Permanent Celtic Manager Odds*

Eddie Howe1/2
John Kennedy6/1
Jack Ross8/1
Martin O’Neill10/1
Gordon Strachan14/1
Roy Keane16/1
Leonardo Jardim20/1
Dan Petrescu25/1
Henrik Larsson25/1
Serhiy Rebrov66/1

*Odds up to date as of 11am January 21, 2021

Jack Ross and Eddie Howe Would Bring Fresh Ideas

Eddie Howe gave an interesting answer when asked whether he was desperate to return to management recently. “If I decide down the line to get back in – or if I want to get back in if I’m lucky enough to be given an opportunity – then I’ll do that,” he told Sky Sports. “For me, I don’t want to get back in for the sake of it. It would have to be something that really motivated me.”

Celtic might just be that job. Despite their current struggles, Celtic are a huge club and a name that resonates around the whole of Europe. Howe may see his long-term future in the Premier League south of the border, but the chance to compete for silverware in Glasgow would no doubt appeal. Now favourite on most betting apps, Howe seems a smart bet.

Jack Ross is just a year older than Howe and would also be a forward-thinking appointment. He was slightly unfortunate to be sacked by Sunderland and has done a good job at Hibernian since his arrival in November 2019.

Managers are often wary of jumping ship in the middle of a season, but the lure of Celtic Park would surely prove too strong were the Bhoys to make a formal approach for the 44-year-old.

Could John Kennedy Be Promoted From Within?

John Kennedy has the advantage of already being on the Celtic payroll. The first-team coach knows the players and has a long association with the club, having been part of the backroom staff for a decade. Kennedy worked alongside Brendan Rodgers as Celtic won domestic trebles in three successive seasons, the latter being secured after Rodgers had left for Leicester City.

However, being part of the current setup may actually work against Kennedy. He probably had a better chance of landing the job in 2019, when continuity was more of a prized asset given that things were going well at Celtic Park. This season has started disastrously for the Bhoys, and promoting from within would not provide the sort of shake-up that many fans want to see.

It is also unclear whether Kennedy wants the job. Some assistant managers and first-team coaches do the job for a few years before announcing their intention to take up a No.1 position. Kennedy seems content to do his work in the background, and he may lack the personality to take on the job at this delicate time.

Next Celtic Boss Betting: O'Neill In The Frame

The best bookmakers and punters alike believe Celtic could instead go for a tried-and-trusted successor to Lennon, which explains why Martin O’Neill is well backed in the betting market. O’Neill won three league titles, three Scottish Cups and one Scottish League Cup during his time at the helm between 2000 and 2005, while also leading Celtic to the UEFA Cup final. He would no doubt be interested in a return to the green-and-white half of Glasgow.

Jack Ross and Eddie Howe are younger options, with the former currently impressing Scottish Premiership side Hibernian and the latter unemployed after ending his lengthy association with Bournemouth at the end of last season, when the Cherries were relegation to the Championship.

Gordon Strachan is another former Celtic manager who has been linked with a second stint, while the appointment of Henrik Larsson would have the backing of the supporters given his exploits as a player at Celtic Park. Leonardo Jardim would be an intriguing pick following the largely excellent job he did at Monaco.

Is Martin O’Neill The Answer To Celtic’s Problems?

O’Neill did a tremendous job at Celtic at the start of the century. The season before he took charge, the Bhoys finished 21 points behind Rangers at the top of what was then the SPL. Rangers were undoubtedly on top of Scottish football at this stage, having won 11 of the previous 12 titles.

O’Neill set about changing that. He won the league in three of his five seasons in the hot seat, and also led Celtic to their first European final since 1970. In doing so, the Northern Irishman became the most successful Celtic manager since Jock Stein.

It is easy to see why O’Neill is leading the race to be Celtic’s next manager. The club’s fans were up in arms following the defeat by Ross County, and the appointment of someone who has already been successful at Parkhead might instantly get them back on side.

However, there may be some concern that O’Neill has only had one club job since 2013, and that stint at Nottingham Forest did not go well. He is now 68 years old and does not have the same energy and dynamism as he did upon his first arrival at Celtic in 2000.

Bookmakers' Next Permanent Manager Markets

Gordon Strachan Has Experience But Would Be A Risk

Like Martin O’Neill, Gordon Strachan knows what it takes to manage Celtic. He succeeded O’Neill in 2005 and held the position for four years, during which time he won three SPL titles, two Scottish League Cups and a Scottish Cup.

However, the Scottish game looks vastly different today than it did back then. Rangers are resurgent, having put in place a modern sporting structure and appointed a young, up-and-coming head coach. Installing Steven Gerrard was a gamble given his lack of managerial experience, but it would also be a risk for Celtic to turn back to Strachan, who has not been involved in the club game since 2010.

That is why Strachan seems overvalued. His only job in the last 10 years was with the Scottish national team, a position from which he resigned after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. If Celtic do opt for an experienced former manager, O’Neill is much more likely to get the nod than Strachan – as reflected by their respective odds.

Henrik Larsson The Romantic Option For Celtic Fans

Henrik Larsson is a Celtic legend. Only Jimmy McGrory and Bobby Lennox have scored more goals for the club, with the Swedish striker finding the net 242 times in 315 appearances. He was also adored for his loyalty, remaining at Parkhead for seven years despite numerous – and no doubt lucrative – offers to move elsewhere.

Larsson’s return to Glasgow would therefore generate considerable excitement among the Celtic fan base. The Swede is currently working as part of Ronald Koeman’s coaching staff at Barcelona, having previously held four managerial jobs (including two spells with Helsingborg) in his homeland.

However, his time at Helsingborg may concern the powers that be at Celtic Park. Larsson oversaw relegation in his first spell, then resigned in his second stint after being insulted on social media following defeat by lower-league opposition in the cup. His experience with his hometown club might explain why Larsson is a lengthy 25/1 despite his Celtic connections.

Rebrov and Jardim Are The Market’s Outsiders

Also available in the betting are Serhiy Rebrov and Leonardo Jardim. There is a tendency for pundits and decision-makers to overvalue experience of the Scottish game when there is a managerial vacancy, and that could work against two men who have never even worked in the UK as coaches.

Rebrov did play for Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United in England, and his managerial career has already taken the Ukrainian to Saudi Arabia and Hungary. He led Ferencvaros to the group stage of the Champions League for the first time in 25 years this season, and might prove difficult to prise away.

Jardim is a more likely candidate. His impressive work at Monaco – a league title against the might of Paris Saint-Germain, together with some notable youth development – means he is a manager Celtic should be considering. He is currently out of work too, which means the club would not need to pay any sort of compensation to secure his services. Jardim is clearly a longshot, but it could be worth pursuing.