The decision to go cheap with the subsequent appointments of Gordon Strachan and Tony Mowbray was evidence of the Board’s change in strategy. With hindsight, the O’Neill epoch can now be regarded as a golden era the likes of which we might not see in our lifetime. Shortly before his departure, Martin O’Neill made an oblique reference to this very theme. He saw the writing on the wall.
Neil Lennon, Tony Mowbray and Gordon Strachan were never the sort of men to take Celtic to the next level. In the case of Mowbray and Strachan one could argue that they acquiesced in the downsizing of the club.
On paper at least the Celtic strategy of building a squad from local talent, and using Lennoxtown as a conveyor belt for youngsters makes sense. Unfortunately football isn’t played on paper. The current strategy does not stand up to any real scrutiny. Gordon Strachan must in this sense shoulder a lot of the blame, as he left Mowbray a poor legacy which he failed to address. Strachan seemed to have an unusal penchant for all things Hibernian. Scott Brown, Derek Riordan, Gary Caldwell, Chris Killen were just some of the names that moved from east to west. It is difficult to see Martin O’Neill signing any of those players in any capacity.
More sinister is the role of John Park who revels in the title of football “development’ manager. His role as his title suggests is to develop players, however one sees very little evidence of real development since his arrival at Celtic Park. Scott Brown a record signing from Hibs for example, has regressed at an alarming rate.
The whole notion of building for the future is a laudable aim, unfortunately most Celtic supporters are worried about the here and now, and not some nebulous future era.
Dr Jo Venglos and Wim Jansen, two very short term Celtic managers had an eye for a player and bequeathed us two of the best players in the last thirty years. Neither Lubo Moravcik nor Henrik Larsson together cost a fortune, a quarter of what Scott Brown cost or one Georgios Samaras to be exact.
John Park and his like have no place at Celtic, the notion of having a football development manager at Celtic Park would have enraged Jock Stein. When Big Jock was at Celtic, there only ever was one manager. He managed everything, no surprise too that whilst driving Celtic to European glory, he was simultaneously developing the Quality Street kids in the shape of Kenny Dalglish, David Hay, George Connelly, Lou Macari, Danny McGrain, etc.
The next Celtic manager has to be somebody who is credible and has the necessary experience. The new manager has to be able to decide how he will run the playing side and if that means scrapping the current development system then so be it. John Park developed Gary Caldwell, Scott Brown, Kenny Miller and Chris Killen. No more needs to be said.
In short, the Celtic Board should think long and hard about whom they appoint. The appointee should not be selected on the basis of a chance encounter on a golf links or a racecourse. Professional objective criteria backed up with hard cash are now needed, Celtic supporters deserve no less.
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