Initial favourites for the Celtic manager’s job as Neil Lennon expected to be sacked

There’s no point of moving on from a manager unless you have a plan for a successor, but it could simply be the case that Neil Lennon had become too toxic in his current role.

The results were generally poor, he seems to be completely losing it as time went on and the excused became desperate, while the fan reaction will eventually put pressure on the board and it did appear to be inevitable that he would be moved on:

It appears that John Kennedy will take over for now in an interim role, but you have to think the board are in a position where appointing him can only happen as a last resort or if he suddenly produces an incredibly turnaround.

The odds on the new manager will fluctuate wildly, but here’s a quick look at some of the initial favourites at the time of writing:

Steve Clark – 6/4

Clark is incredibly highly rated as a coach and he’s done a wonderful job with Scotland to get them to the Euros, while he also worked wonders at Kilmarnock and their slide after his departure shows how good he was.

There is a fear that all of his success has come with average teams where little was expected, so simply getting the likes of Killie or West Brom into the top half will be seen as a success.

That isn’t the case at Celtic where the demand for success will be immediate and he’ll also need to learn how to set up a team to dominate rather than simply react to the opposition, so it could be an interesting one.

You can see him getting solid results in Europe against better teams but ultimately struggling in the league by drawing too many games with a negative approach, but he should be a solid if someone unspectacular appointment.

John Kennedy – 11/4

It’s worth noting that many betting sites consider an interim manager to be permanent if they take charge of ten competitive games – something that should happen for Celtic if the Scottish Cup is played to a finish this season.

That means Kennedy will likely be seen as the “next permanent boss” here even if someone new comes in this summer, so his odds may be slightly stunted as a result of that.

You also have to consider that he’s highly rated at the club and seemingly popular with the players, while we see it far too often where the squad is going through the motions until a manager is sacked before bursting into life.

He’s also been part of the current failure and he can’t be completely resolved of blame there, but he should get a solid run of games to show why he should be considered for the job longer term.

Rafa Benitez – 6/1

Obviously a dream appointment who would be the huge name that would satisfy large sections of the support, there’s little doubt that Rafa would turn this squad around.

He demands professionalism and a structured approach to the game so we would be sure of seeing a team set up properly with an actual game plan, but he can also be accused of being overly negative in his style of play.

He’s vastly experienced so you would hope for further progress in Europe, while he could also attract some big name players to the club too.

The main problem would be actually attracting him to the role and you would fear that he would take the first offer from down south that comes along, but he would be a cracking appointment if it’s possible.

Eddie Howe – 10/1

There’s been a feeling for a while that Howe was a popular choice for the role after leaving Bournemouth in the summer, but it does look like he’s trying to get another Premier League club.

He did a brilliant job to take Bournemouth to the Premier League and his teams played some nice football, but they were often wide open at the back and it wasn’t a sustainable style in the long-run.

It would be a very different job for him to bring immediate success rather than simply trying to keep a team in the league, but he’s bright and highly thought of so he would be an interesting appointment.

Wildcard choice: Andre Villas-Boas – 40/1

There would be an initial problem where he might spit the dummy out if Olivier Ntcham returns from Marseille as his signing was the final straw for Villas-Boas in France, but this would be an interesting one.

There’s no doubt that his stock has fallen after failed spells with Chelsea, Spurs and Marseille, but he was working with one hand tied behind his back in France and they did occasionally look like title challengers.

He’s been complementary of Celtic in the past and a report last year indicated that he may have some interest in the role, so this isn’t completely impossible.

He has a reputation to salvage and he ultimately wants his teams to play some high tempo pressing football so the positive signs are there, but he may be seen as damaged goods just now and he would likely be expensive too.


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Still trying to figure out exactly why Vidar Riseth hammered the ball across his own goal line that night in Perth....


  1. I wouldn’t want AVB – not had enough success and if he lost a few games, it would just go downhill and be an expensive lesson to learn. Benitez – I agree, he won’t come to us. Martinez…..tough one, if he had a different job, maybe. Depends what he was offered or what contract he is on but he’d at least want to the delayed Euros so unlikely.
    Kennedy? No thanks. Good man but we need fresh ideas, tactics, a new structured approach. So perhaps he could help prime youth squad for breaking through. Lampard, unlikely and not the right fit. Howe – probably up to him; if he wants the Crystal Palace role, hard to tell.
    Make no mistake, this is going to be a tough one. Yes, we want tactics and experience but we also want someone who will understand that winning is vital if you are a club that have been around as long as we have or even the new club that’s having a decent season. Perhaps the moves to also fill a Director of Football role might take precedence, get someone in place by mid-March and confirm a new manager by end of March? That way, we have a bit of time between then and summer qualifiers for Ch League