Bruno Lage may not be a name many Celtic supporters are familiar with, but he may just be one of the most interesting left-field options for the vacant managerial position.
The bookmakers’ favourites list for the Celtic job contains a wide variety of managers of different styles and profiles.
Lage is one of the least talked about options on that list, despite appearing ahead of more familiar names such as Alex Neil, Michael O’Neill and Roy Keane. [Oddschecker]
He established his coaching career as a youth coach at Benfica between 2004 and 2012, before serving as an assistant to Carlos Carvalhal at Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea City.
It was a return to Benfica in 2018 that made him his own man, however, initially in charge of their B team before earning a promotion and taking over the senior side.
He was a managerial sensation during his first six months in the job, opting to focus on youthful options at the Portuguese giants and romping to the Primeira Liga title.
Admittedly he did have prospects such as Joao Felix to embrace, but he still had the foresight to recognise the young talents that were ready to take the first-team by storm.
Lage was given the job on January 6th 2019, with Benfica in fourth place, and by the end of May had guided his team to 18 league wins and one league draw, winning the top-flight.
He established or equalled records along the way such as thrashing Nacional 10-0 and totalling 103 top-flight league goals.
In Europe, Lage guided Benfica through two Europa League knockout rounds against Galatasaray and Dinamo Zagreb before exiting at the quarter-final stage to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Between August 2019 and January 2020, Benfica’s league form was just as exciting as the season prior. They won 18 of their opening 19 fixtures, with only a solitary loss to Porto three games into the campaign blighting that record.
They finished third in a Champions League group containing Lyon, RB Leipzig and FC Zenit.
However, the pandemic struck and Lage’s reign ended almost as quickly as it began. With form dwindling, he resigned in June of last year.
Since then he’s been linked with roles at Aston Villa and Sao Paolo, but could Celtic be the right fit for him?
If we want to put a focus on youth development then Lage may just be a viable choice. He did that job at an elite level for years and then provided a pathway for young players to come into his successful Benfica trophy winners.
Benfica are also a pretty close analogue to Celtic in terms of expectation and pressure. He’s already been in a job where victory every week is demanded and was able to prove he could cope with that.
It should be stressed that Lage has not been formally linked with the Celtic job. We have no idea if he is a name being considered or if he’d even be interested in the post.
However, as the club cast a net far and wide, he’s certainly a name to keep an eye on.