Paul Hartley dismisses John Kennedy for two key Celtic jobs next season

By David Walton

March 3, 2021

Paul Hartley has stated his belief that “a lot of changes” are coming to Parkhead, as he dismissed John Kennedy for two key Celtic jobs next season.

Celtic are currently in the market for a new long-term appointment that can take the club into next season and beyond. Neil Lennon’s departure last week wasn’t unexpected. However, it’s opened up massive questions over what direction the club will go in next.

The Daily Mail reported last month that the Hoops were eyeing up a Director of Football for the new campaign. It’s a role that Kennedy had been recommended for by Brendan Rodgers before his departure in 2019 [Scottish Mail on Sunday, 28/02, page 152].

But Hartley doesn’t expect Kennedy to be in either the managerial or sporting director chair come the new campaign.

Speaking on the Celtic Huddle Podcast, Hartley said: “The big thing you’ve got to ask John Kennedy is: Does he want to be the Celtic manager? Or does he prefer just coaching the players?

“I think there’s going to be a lot of changes at Celtic. And I think John’s too young for director of football. Kendo likes being on the training pitch and if you take him away from that then I’m not sure that would suit him.

“What is he, 37, 38? I think he’s definitely too young for that job. Possibly he could stay with a new manager. He knows the club and has worked with the squad for a number of years.”

John Kennedy not ready for Celtic managerial or director of football jobs

It feels like there’s almost this urge to try and find a place for Kennedy next season. As if he’s an indispensable figure who simply must stay on because his potential is far too great. Even if that’s the case, the Director of Football role would be a massive change from what he’s used to.

Remember, Kennedy has made his name via on-field coaching. The vast majority of roles he’s held has been on the training field. Not since 2009 was John working in a scouting role, and that’s a touch more in-line with a sporting director. Or at least part of his remit.

Going from interim boss to a Director of Football role is a massive change. All of a sudden, Kennedy will go from training players to outlining a club’s long-term vision. He would be setting out how the club needs to operate and the type of manager that suits that style of operation. He would play a huge role in the scouting department and ensure players are being signed that coincide with the club’s new philosophy.

John Kennedy, interim Celtic coach / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Where does Kennedy go next?

It’s an incredible change, and not a decision that can be made just because he’s John Kennedy and he needs a place made for him. Kennedy should only be part of things next season if he’s wanted by the new regime. If it’s down to Dermot Desmond, that’s a bad start.

For me, John should be focusing solely on winning every game between now and the end of the season. After that, he should be looking to spread his wings and become a manager in his own right elsewhere. Having a positive end to the season will only bolster his options.

Shoehorning him into an upstairs position? It feels all a bit too forced for me.

In other news, Celtic starlet Scott Robertson just had a fine evening last night.