Report: Celtic Head of Sports Science Jack Nayler leaves Parkhead for Germany

By Euan Davidson

June 29, 2021

Former Celtic managerial candidate Jesse Marsch has reportedly headhunted a key member of the Bhoys staff.

Jack Nayler, Brendan Rodgers’ 2016 appointment as Head of Sports Science, has been snatched by RB Leipzig. According to the Sun, the Leipzig club have announced that the Sports Science department will be “led by Jack Nayler.” The former Ancelotti employee also enjoyed spells at Chelsea, PSG and Real Madrid. His signing represented a significant coup for Celtic.

However, the Sun report that the Bundesliga side have recognised his CV and his potential. That leaves Ange Postecoglou with a bit of a hole to fill. It also suggests that Sports Science was, indeed, being used at Celtic to some degree last season. However, the lack of fitness and the over-reliance on certain players indicates that Neil Lennon wasn’t quite like his predecessor in taking it into account.

Nayler, it turns out, outlasted three Celtic bosses, having also worked under interim manager John Kennedy.

The onus is now on Postecoglou to shape his backroom staff. According to his LinkedIn page, Damian Kovacevic held the same position at Yokohama F Marinos. With some familiar faces needed through the door, Postecoglou may turn to his former employee, who also worked with Melbourne Victory.

What does this sports science news mean for Celtic?

Actually, quite a lot.

Sports science, data analytics and all the modern furnishings of team management were crucial under Brendan Rodgers. While there have been certain frustrations about particular players seeing too much/too little game time, that has to be based on more than a coach’s hunch these days.

Rodgers knows the benefits of sports science / (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Certainly, under Rodgers, we saw more squad rotation, more players being used and a better level of fitness. Neil Lennon, a more old school type, stuck with the likes of Callum McGregor and Scott Brown. Even when they so obviously needed a break.

Postecoglou, a squad builder who has been successful in Australia and Japan, now needs to build a successful backroom team. While, regrettably in some cases, there may be familiar names in there, expect to see movement soon. The employment and subsequent loss of Jack Nayler may seem small-fry in the grand scheme of things. However, that’s a world class talent in his role, and he came because of the influence of a top manager.

Whether Postecoglou can repeat the trick is anyone’s guess.

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