Pat Bonner wants Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill at Celtic

By David Walton

May 30, 2021

Celtic great Pat Bonner has claimed that he would take Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill at Parkhead as he raised concerns over Ange Postecoglou.

O’Neill has currently in the process of rebuilding Stoke after their recent fall from grace. The former Northern Ireland manager managed to save them from relegation in 2019/20 before finishing in 14th place last season.

Instead, however, Celtic appear to be close to appointing Greek-Australian tactician Postecoglou. The BBC reports that the Hoops are in advanced talks with the Yokohama Marinos boss, and that he could be appointed as early as next week.

Bonner, however, has his doubts. He was speaking on BBC Sportsound yesterday, and identified O’Neill as the man he would take.

I’m looking down the list of people that are there. Maybe Michael O’Neill? I would take him. I would go for those guys that know the British game, know the Scottish game as well as the European game.

“Here’s somebody that’s in Australia and in Japan. He is in a different environment, different place.

“Without being disrespectful, when you are in that environment you do not think about European football too much, unless dealing with agents.”

Stoke City boss Michael O’Neill looks nowhere near it; Celtic appear to have identified their man

O’Neill would hardly have been the worst choice if a bit uninspiring. He’s proven time and time again that he can get the best out of a limited group of players. His tenure as Northern Ireland manager proved that. So much so that he was offered the Scotland gig in 2018 only to leave the SFA embarrassed by turning it down [Daily Record].

He would manage to qualify the Northern Irish for their first-ever European Championships in 2016. That achievement also broke their 30-year qualification duck. They would even progress beyond the group stage and into the second round too, where they lost to Wales. He managed to bring Northern Ireland up from the scrapheap of international football to a legitimately dangerous side capable of making an impact in tournaments.

However, his achievements in club football haven’t exactly stood out. His progress with Stoke appeared to stall last season. They only finished one spot higher than in the 2019/20 campaign and weren’t anywhere near the playoff positions. O’Neill will surely have his eyes fixated on building on that next season.

Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

In any case, he looks as distant from the Celtic job as he could possibly be. Postecoglou is in pole position, and it will be tricky not to see him being appointed as the club’s next permanent manager.

Granted, the Eddie Howe saga taught us all a lesson in over certainty. Nothing’s a done deal until it’s a done deal. That’s the case with Postecoglou just as it was with Howe. But the prospect of moving for O’Neill has barely been reported this summer.

Even if Postecoglou was the latest to shutdown talks with Celtic, O’Neill hardly looks like he’s third on the list.

In other news, the Eddie Howe saga has left Celtic in even more trouble with regard to season-tickets.