Celtic managerial search takes some twists this week

By David Walton

May 20, 2019

Celtic’s managerial hunt has definitely taken a few twists and turns this week.

The Hoops still haven’t appointed a new manager to take us into next year. It’s looking as if there will be no decision until after the Scottish Cup final against Hearts on Saturday either.

Neil Lennon’s performances have left a lot to be admired even if he wins the treble. The Northern Irishman will deserve immense credit if he pulls it off, but fans are split between whether he should get the job permanently or not. You have to wonder, if it was going to go to Lennon, as to why it hasn’t already been done.

Neil Lennon has divided Celtic fans (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

But as well as the fact that Lennon doesn’t look likely, there are several other previously reported contenders who now either definitely aren’t in the running, or aren’t likely to be in it within days.

Here’s a look at the trio of contenders to have changed their status on the Celtic job this week:

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez looks like he wants to stay at Newcastle United (Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

Sorry Hoops, this one just isn’t looking likely.

Many of us will have had big hopes that the Champions League winning manager would possibly make the move to Parkhead. With his contract at Newcastle United up at the end of June, his future was and still is to an extent up in the air.

But over the last few days, talks appear to have gone positively for Benitez (The Chronicle). The Chronicle believes that Benitez wants this to end positively, and that would make sense. It would also back up what Benitez told Sky Sports, as he stated he wants to stay at Tyneside.

It’s difficult to see this one ending in anything other than a new, accepted contract. The Spaniard certainly doesn’t appear to be itching to move up here anyway.

Steve Clarke

Steve Clarke to Celtic isn’t happening either (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Today, Steve Clarke was announced as the new Scotland manager. That surely officially rules him out of the Celtic running. The idea of sharing him with the SFA just wouldn’t be accepted.

Clarke has long been linked with the Parkhead post (Scottish Sun). He’s managed to take Kilmarnock into Europe for the first time in 18 years. That comes after finishing third in the Premiership. A last-day victory over Rangers ensured it.

Clarke’s achievements in Scotland have been sensational. He’s turned what was almost a lifeless club into a vibrant, competitive football team.

His interest in the job never appeared to be overly-committal. And now he can officially be ruled out. This is a big name off the list, as he could’ve been a real masterstroke from the board.

Graham Potter

Outsider Graham Potter has moved to Brighton (Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

Swansea City manager Graham Potter can just about be ruled out for the job too. He will now take on the job at Brighton in the English Championship next season. Not that Celtic fans will be too disappointed either.

Potter was linked with the Parkhead post last month (BBC). But he was quick to come out and pour water over it. The feeling would’ve been mutual, as he doesn’t have anywhere near the managerial CV to take a risk on as we chase 10-in-a-row.

The Englishman has only been in charge of Swansea for just under a year. He managed a top 10 finish with the Liberty Stadium outfit in the Championship. Nothing to get overly excited about.

Potter may have done well in Europe with Ostersund, but Ronny Deila proved that success in Scandinavia doesn’t make you suitable for the job.

So, overall, that’s three contenders you can now just about rule out. Benitez is the only one not to have his future totally confirmed, but it doesn’t look great for Celtic.

It will be interesting to see what other names come out of the hat over the next week. But it won’t be Clarke, Potter, and most likely not Benitez either.