Pundit refusing to rule out prospect of Rafa Benitez to Celtic

By David Walton

February 25, 2021

Pat Nevin is refusing to rule out the possibility of Rafa Benitez becoming the next Celtic manager.

It’s an idea that has been dismissed by many in the past. Spanish football expert Guillem Balague tweeted only last month that the Spaniard isn’t an option for Celtic nowadays despite previous interest.

He claimed that Benitez was looking to rest for a period of time. That’s despite the fact he had apparently been offered gigs from Germany and a national team.

But Nevin doesn’t believe it’s something that can be dismissed so easily, despite labelling him as one of the “best managers in world football”.

As quoted by the Daily Record, Nevin said: “He’s obviously famous for what he did at Liverpool but I got to see him up close at
Chelsea and he was outstanding, he never put a foot wrong.

“And the job he did at Newcastle was phenomenal in the circumstances. Would Rafa go to Celtic? I don’t know but you wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand.

“People talk about the money he made in China but sometimes it’s about the challenge – and it goes back to the timing. It would certainly be big box office with Gerrard in the opposite dugout.”

Benitez the dream appointment, but Celtic may need to be realistic

There are some overwhelming positives regarding the Celtic job. Any new manager will be arriving with an opportunity to totally rebuild the club. The squad looks like it’s going to be decimated in the summer, and that provides an appetising opportunity for any manager to make their mark.

Not to mention the glory factor that goes along with regaining the title and securing our place at the top of Scottish football again. The man to do that will forever be enshrined in Celtic’s history. The man who helped halt any proper Rangers resurgence and kept us at the head of the table.

However, it’s the negatives surrounding the club that could put a figure such as Benitez off. The fact that we are no longer as big a club in a European context as we once were. These days, the Hoops are struggling to qualify for the Europa League nevermind making inroads in the Champions League.

Rafael Benitez / (Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images via Getty Images)

There’s also likely to be plenty of downsizing. Despite the fact we need a squad overhaul, you can’t expect a great deal in the way of spending. Celtic have Odsonne Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer likely to depart, but their funds will almost certainly be used to offset money lost to the pandemic plus a failure to qualify for the CL.

If we’re going to entice someone with the quality of Benitez to Parkhead, everything needs to be right. Everything needs to be in place. You also have to hope that he would agree to work alongside a Director of Football. As popular as it is at the top end of European football, it’s not every manager’s cup of tea. Granted, Benitez has worked in that same structure before.

For now, he continues to be the fanciful/overly-optimistic option. But let’s see what the coming weeks bring as we move into a new era.

In other news, we take a look at the SRU comment that could provide hope for an early arrival for Dominic McKay.