After former Rangers manager Dick Advocaat quit the Ibrox club in 2002 after four years in charge, he commented that it felt like he was in the job for eight years. Gordan Strachan, the former Celtic boss, insisted that an Old Firm manager has a shell life of four years.
Now with the departure of Neil Lennon after a four-year reign at the Scottish champions, this pattern continues and with it a consensus emerges that 4 years is indeed the magic number, the tipping point at which a manager decides he must move on to new pastures.
It has been a turbulent tenure for the Northern Irishman, and he has probably crammed far more than eight years worth of drama and incident into his four years in charge.
Throw in the lack of competition domestically due to the absence of rivals Rangers, it was inevitable that Lennon would cede his crown as the Celtic boss sooner rather than later.
While the absence of Rangers would not have made Lennon’s heart grow fonder, it certainly made his mind wonder about what fresh challenges lay ahead in his future. Far from upsetting the clubs fans, though, his decision to leave the club as manager seems to have resulted in a sort of happy medium. There is a mutual understanding between Lennon and the fans that now is the right time for him to leave.
This consensus attitude about the timing of Lennon’s departure, however, contrasts sharply with the uncertainty among fans about what direction the club should take in selecting a new manager. The dichotomy of opinion about whether to go for an experienced manager or recruit a young boss on the rise such as Jackie McNamara or Henrk Larsson is an interesting dilemma, which is provoking much debate among Celtic fans on forums and social media sites.
It seems the only certainty is that the next manager will be more than likely be a familiar face, someone well versed in the ‘Celtic Way’, either by virtue of being a former player or supporter of the club.
Some of the names with some sort of association with club on the current shortlist include; Paul Lambert, Malky Mackay, David Moyes, Owen Coyle, Jackie McNamara and Henrik Larsson.
Interestingly enough, many have poured cold water on the claims that Henrik Larsson should be the next boss. But the legendary former Parkhead player- affectionately known as the ‘King’- is certainly a favourite among the book makers.
Of some of the more experienced names mentioned, the likes of David Moyes, Malky Mackay and Paul Lambert may be hard to capture, especially considering the club have a mountain to climb to get into the Champions League. Being resigned to domestic football is the dreaded scenario, but it is a real possibility, the probability of which could potentially persuade the aforementioned managers to resist the allure of Paradise at the present moment.
The limited transfer budget and necessity to change some of the playing personnel in such a short space of time before the Champions League qualifiers could be also prohibitive to finding the perfect candidate. In the current climate, Celtic may have to settle for Mr Right Now as opposed to Mr Right.
Still there will be no shortage of managers willing to throw their hats in the ring to fill the vacancy - it is a huge job after all.
But the necessity to qualify for the Champions League group stages is a difficult cross to bear for the new boss regardless of the pedigree or level of experience of Neil Lennon’s successor. Jose Mourinho would have his work cut out trying to secure qualification to Europe’s premier competition with this current squad.
Yet the fans have made it clear they feel malnourished on their diet of domestic football: the Celtic faithful need some European competition to fill their appetites next season. Qualifying for the Champions League group stage or, at the very worst, the Europa League is critically important.
Experienced or up and coming, familiar or foreign, regardless of who is the next Celtic boss, there will be big trouble in Paradise if the new manager cannot secure European football next season.
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