Czech Champion, Europa League botherer; the left-field choice for Celtic job

By Euan Davidson

February 7, 2021

Celtic and Slavia Prague have connections from over a century ago.

In 1906, former Celtic player John “Jake” Madden left the UK to implement his own set of tactics at Slavia Prague, an upstart bunch from the Czech capital. In a managerial reign lasting 25 years, Madden left Czechoslovakia as a figure who influenced football throughout Bohemia, an eternal legend of the Czech game.

So, with Neil Lennon likely to leave in the summer, Celtic should get on the phone. Yes, it’s been 114 years, but it’s time to return the favour.

Nowadays, Slavia Prague are a dominant force in Czech football, with manager Jindřich Trpišovský at the helm. Far from treating injuries with frozen fish and getting changed beneath a tree [These Football Times], Trpišovský is leading his side through a healthy period.

Slavia Prague are in the final 32 of the Europa League [UEFA], and have won every domestic league title since 17-18. Trpišovský also has two Czech Cups on his mantlepiece.

Jindrich Trpisovsky watches his side take on Barcelona / (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

“Czech Klopp” could be an option for Celtic

Heralded as the “Czech Klopp” [Reuters], Trpišovský’s travails in Europe will be of the most interest to Celtic supporters. Not to be confused with the other Prague side, Slavia have consistently made it to the latter stages of the Europa League.

In 18-19, Slavia knocked perennial winners Sevilla out of the competition. This was followed by a gutsy defeat against Chelsea [BBC]. The Czech side lost 5-3 on aggregate.

“We try to play total football from the first to the 90th minute”, Trpišovský told Reuters. “Meaning there should be always something happening on the pitch. When we lose the ball, we immediately try to win it back.”

An intense, fearless manager who wears a baseball cap just like Jurgen Klopp, Trpišovský is also a proponent of “heavy metal football”. His sides are energetic, physical and press relentlessly. He demands fitness from his players, and is shrewd in the transfer market.

His side who are romping to the Czech title once again are valued at considerably less than Celtic [Transfermarkt]. There aren’t any superstars. Instead, there are hard-working players from a variety of backgrounds.

What would it take to lure him to Celtic? His connection to Slavia Prague and Czech football runs deep, of course. But the opportunity to revive the fortunes of an ailing giant and improve our European fortunes would surely be tempting.

Add to that the appeal of the wages Celtic can pay, and a bigger transfer budget than he might used to? If Celtic are smart, a deal can be done.

Most vitally of all, just look at the business Slavia Prague have done in 20-21 alone. Ours is a club in need of a serious rebuild. Well, just glance at the turnover here [Transfermarkt]. Then consider that this side are top of the league, and in the last 32 of the Europa League.

It’s not bad, is it?

Elsewhere: an ex-Celtic man is nearing a return to football.