Next stop, Celtic? A look at David Wagner and Dan Petrescu

By Euan Davidson

February 25, 2021

David Wagner and Dan Petrescu have been linked with the vacant Celtic job.

According to Stephen McGowan of the Daily Mail, both managers have expressed interest in the Celtic managerial position. Dan Petrescu, formerly of CFR Cluj, has been linked before. Wagner, however, is a new name in terms of Hoops chat; the former Huddersfield and Schalke boss has had a tough year or two.

With John Kennedy appointed in the interim, the Bhoys have time to consider their options. There’s talk of a Sporting Director/Director of Football joining the club. That would undoubtedly help in identifying the next Celtic manager. Inevitably there’ll be months of speculation, but with Lennon leaving in February, the rebuild for 21-22 begins in earnest.

Could Dan Petrescu or David Wagner be the next Celtic manager? Let’s review both and assess their chances.

Dan Petrescu, in his most recent managerial job / (Photo by Sebnem Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Dan Petrescu, self-avowed Celtic admirer

Petrescu, of course, is well known to Celtic supporters.

The former CFR Cluj manager masterminded victory over the Hoops in 2019 [BBC], knocking Lennon’s side out of Champions League qualifying. Subsequently, we faced Petrescu’s team twice in the Europa League, sharing the spoils over both matches.

The Romanian tactician has impressed with limited finances at various clubs. He’s won 4 Romanian league titles; 3 with Cluj, one with Unirea Urziceni. Petrescu has also managed in China, Qatar, Poland, and most recently, Turkey. A spell at Kayserispor ended prematurely due to “family reasons” only this week, so he’s available [Show Sport].

However, there are obvious danger signs with the Romanian boss. Firstly, he’s had more clubs than Colin Montgomerie: he’s never managed more than 125 matches with one team. At just 53, that’s an incredible statistic. The former Chelsea player doesn’t stick around anywhere for too long, and that’s worrying.

Secondly, in 18 years of management, 4 titles is a relatively poor return. Fine, he’s conquered the Romanian top-flight, but he’s never really made a significant mark in a top European league. If we’re looking for top-level experience, Petrescu probably isn’t the man.

Wagner: a winner with Huddersfield Town / (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

David Wagner: too risky for Celtic?

The third most-famous Wagner after the composer and the X-factor contestant, David Wagner’s stock has fallen since he took the Huddersfield job.

Most recently, the German coach endured a torrid downturn at Schalke, a storied Bundesliga outfit who are staring relegation in the face. There are mitigating factors, certainly, but the Gelsenkirchen-based team would never have expected such a miserable period.

However, he had to get the Schalke job in the first place. Wagner did so with an excellent reputation. Formerly in the BVB set-up with Jürgen Klopp, the ex-striker crossed the Rivierderby divide after a fruitful spell at Huddersfield Town. The un-fancied Yorkshire side achieved Premier League status under the former Mainz player, and managed to stay up for a second season.

Described as “a leader of rare charisma and intelligence” by The Guardian, Wagner’s survival act with Huddersfield was remarkable. Especially considering he’d taken over when the club were 18th in the Championship. It wasn’t just the top-flight status that defined Wagner; his style of play was attractive, free-flowing and attacking. That’s despite having limited resources for a club in the Premier League.

Still, the slide that Schalke took under Wagner’s management means that he’ll be needing to do some career rehabilitation. The German side went nearly 31 games without a win over 2020 and the start of 2021. Their form was so poor that the winless streak record holders in Germany, Tasmania Berlin, protested outside their stadium [Reuters].

Is Wagner damaged goods? At the moment, yes. But there’s an excellent coach in there, just like Petrescu. Both names bring their own pros and considerable cons.

If you ask us, Celtic may want to hold out for a worthier candidate.

READ MORE: What next for Lenny?