Former Celtic man Shaun Maloney on working with John Kennedy

By Euan Davidson

February 25, 2021

Former Celtic coach Shaun Maloney has opened up on working with John Kennedy.

Kennedy has stepped into the vacancy left by Neil Lennon, who resigned on Tuesday night. The first-team coach, then assistant to Lennon, Kennedy has met a mixed reception from fans. Oddly, supporters are resistant to the former centre-back. Mostly, that’s because of the bizarre notion that he has acted as Celtic’s “defensive coach”, a myth we have attempted to dispel.

One man who’s certain of Kennedy’s talents, however, is talented coach Shaun Maloney. The diminutive attacker is now a top coach, working with Roberto Martinez at the world’s number 1 ranked side, Belgium. Maloney worked under Tommy McIntyre in the Celtic development set-up, and would take in training sessions led by Kennedy.

The two briefly played together at Celtic, but a career-ending injury put paid to Kennedy’s time as a Bhoys player.

Per the Athletic, Maloney said:

“I would say that he’s good tactically and has a really good manner and connection with players, but when he delivers his sessions that’s what he loves doing.”

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In regards to a footballing philosophy, Maloney expanded:

“I would say that every coach would have a philosophy on how they do their job. That’s separate from your style of play. I think you can see John’s philosophy, and why it worked so well with Brendan and his backroom team — it’s about player development, about improving players.”

Shaun Maloney takes on Rafael da Silva of Manchester United / (Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Shaun Maloney seems keen on John Kennedy and his methods

There’s a strong argument to suggest Kennedy is the perfect candidate at the wrong juncture in his career. Kennedy is stepping into chaos, after years of solidly building his CV at Celtic. Already, he has borne the brunt of criticism from Celtic supporters; however valid that’s been is up for much debate.

We’re unlikely to know the full list of responsibilities he had under Neil Lennon. To some, he’s the architect of the Bhoys’ dreadful set-piece defending. Whether that’s fair or not is only really known to those at the club.

However, Maloney suggests that Kennedy is more than up for a challenge. Asked by Kieran Devlin about the adversity the interim boss is facing, the Belgium assistant said:

“You could say that about every challenge he’s faced, he’s never backed down.”

“You saw that at a really young age against those big three strikers in the young-v-old game 20 years ago, and I think that’s been the same in his coaching career.”

READ MORE: How John Kennedy can get off to a flyer as interim boss.


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