Report: Celtic tried to re-sign both Gordon Strachan and Martin O'Neill this season

By Euan Davidson

February 24, 2021

The Celtic board went after both Gordon Strachan and Martin O’Neill this season.

According to Kieran Devlin of the Athletic: “the club approached former managers Martin O’Neill and Gordon Strachan about potentially taking over for the rest of the season, and both refused.”

Devlin’s sources are normally spot-on, and so it’s very likely that this is the case. If so: oh dear.

Martin O’Neill joined Celtic in 2000, and enormous success followed. In his first season, the Bhoys won a domestic treble. During his time in Glasgow, Celtic became a force in Europe, with famous wins over Juventus and Ajax in the Champions League. That was followed up by the famous run to Seville in 02-03.

Strachan took over from O’Neill in 2005. In his 4-year spell, he won three SPL titles, 2 Scottish League Cups and a Scottish Cup. Like the Irishman before him, Strachan masterminded excellent European nights under the lights for the Hoops.

However, neither have managed to any great deal of success since the early 2010s, arguably. Martin O’Neill’s last managerial role was an unspectacular spell at Nottingham Forest, beginning and ending in 2019 [Guardian]. Strachan is currently Technical Director at Dundee.

Former Celtic boss Gordon Strachan / (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Never quarantine the past: Gordon Strachan and/or Martin O’Neill would’ve been disasters

They say never go back, and if anyone’s proven that, well… I’m sure there’s an example you can think of.

This goes doubly for Strachan and O’Neill. In managerial terms, the pair are both dinosaurs. With the utmost respect, their managerial success came in a bygone era.

Both Gordon Strachan and Martin O’Neill went onto international management after Celtic, and their CVs are impressive. They’re more impressive, arguably, for not coming back to Celtic.

Legacies are important, as Neil Lennon will be able to tell you. It’s not really obvious, to me at least, how either manager would’ve got the best out of the current crop of players. More to the point, they both would’ve insisted on bringing their own staff in. That’s seemingly something that Celtic are loathe to do, and it’s no wonder both said no.

It does, however, explain to some degree both mens’ return to the Celtic commentariat. Gordon Strachan, whose son Gavin is in the coaching set-up, has been on Celtic TV. Martin O’Neill was an analyst for Celtic’s Scottish Cup final win over Hearts, and ruffled plenty of feathers in the process.

That’s where they’re best placed in the Celtic family. They had their very successful times. Going back into the past would’ve been far too risky for either coach to contemplate.

The fact the board did this at all is enormously concerning. It’s further evidence, if it were needed, that change is needed at the club.

READ MORE: one of Lennon’s key men has paid tribute to the outgoing boss.