Celtic great Johan Mjallby touches on failed Southend move; open to UK return

By David Walton

September 7, 2020

Celtic great Johan Mjallby has touched on the failed talks with Southend United last season whilst admitting he would be open to a return to the UK.

The English League Two club were in talks with Mjallby to become the club’s assistant manager under Hoops icon Henrik Larsson last season. Johnson’s role, meanwhile, was to head up recruitment.

However, with talks at an advanced stage, Johnson instead decided to take up a role with Blackpool, who were in League One. Southend then announced that the decision from Johnson ended Larsson and Mjallby’s hopes of getting their respective gigs too (Sky Sports).

Johan Mjallby and Henrik Larsson almost teammed up at Southend (Photo credit should read DANIEL GARCIA/AFP via Getty Images)

Yet former Celtic centre-back and assistant boss Mjallby doesn’t appear to have any hard feelings over how it ended. Speaking in the Herald, the Swede said the following when reacting to Larsson’s recent appointment as assistant boss with Barcelona.

“That’s life, isn’t it? You can’t cry about it. We were so close to taking that job, but it is just one of those things that happen in football. I am over it now.

“I would still never say no to a return to the UK or to get back into football again, but not in Sweden. The mentality is different.

“I actually think that he (Larsson) will still be his own man. He’ll be 49 later this month but it would be fairly normal to be in management at 60. I understand his frustrations of managing in Sweden because the mentality is very different from what you are used to if you have spent your career at big clubs where the pressure to win is always there.”

Mjallby and Larsson still looking for their breakthrough jobs

Mjallby and Larsson have both had mixed success in coaching so far. The former has still to find a productive role since leaving Celtic back in 2014. A brief spell as Neil Lennon’s assistant at Bolton for a year didn’t lead to anything either.

However, whilst the former Sweden international defender continues to look for opportunities, Larsson has a biggie on his hands as Ronald Koeman’s number two at Barcelona.

A club with far too many ageing players and not enough exciting talent coming through, Larsson will be part of a coaching set-up who will be demanded to bring the glory days back to the Nou Camp. As incredible a job as it sounds, it will give the Celtic legend plenty of challenges.

Henrik Larsson is back at Barcelona / (Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Many from a Celtic persuasion will also look at this as Larsson’s potential opportunity to form a path that leads to the Parkhead managerial office. It’s a match made in heaven, but so far Henrik hasn’t quite managed to breakthrough in management after roller-coaster spells with Landskrona Bois, Falkenbergs, and Helsingborgs respectively.

Hopefully, Larsson and Koeman manage to get Barcelona going again, with Mjallby finding another coaching opportunity in Britain.

Both men deserved more from their talks with Southend, but neither seem to be too concerned about it anymore.

In other news, one of Neil Lennon’s new Celtic signings has touched on his best position.