Celtic and the Modern Restructure

By John McGinley

February 7, 2021

This article was written by Christopher Gillespie, a passionate Celtic fan with a burning need to talk about restructuring at the club. You can follow him on Twitter for more Celtic insight @GillespieC89.

When Neil Lennon raised the Scottish Cup to secure the Treble Treble on that rain-soaked day at Hampden, it should have secured his legendary status at the club. At the club’s hour of need, he returned to steady the ship after the sudden departure of Brendan Rodgers to Leicester City. Having achieved that, the club should have shaken his hand and thanked him for his service.

Neil Lennon is old school. Carved from the Martin O’Neill mould, his motivational skills and winning drive were what the club required to see it through the finale of the 2018-19 season. That type of managerial ethic however is consigning itself to the scrap heap in the modern game.

This way of working is perfect for a short term fix. It’s often seen in the English Premier League when a club is staving off relegation and the likes of Sam Allardyce are brought in to firefight the situation. This, however, brings no long term strategy or future planning at the club.

Celtic now have the opportunity to rip up the playbook that has now led to a disastrous end in a previously dominant era. The archaic running of the club from top to bottom must now gradually phase out. The club need to create a new forward-thinking and modern football philosophy to move with elite clubs throughout Europe.

How can this be achieved?

Firstly, it’s definitely not an overnight fix. The transition, however, is now in motion with the arrival of Dominic McKay in the summer as the new CEO. He must arrive at the club as a businessman and not a football man, which was frequently claimed of the outgoing Peter Lawwell.

With his background in communications, McKay must focus on growing the club in a business sense and allow those of reputable knowledge in football to make those decisions on the field.

Celtic CEO Peter Lawwell is leaving the club / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The Director of Football ideology

There has to now be a move away from the CEO and manager making all football decisions at the club. The appointment of a Director of Football must happen to allow all facets of the club to run as they should.

The club has taken the right option to appoint Dominic McKay first in the process of restructuring. His first piece of work should be to appoint a DoF, who in turn can appoint the correct manager/coach for the new season.

The DoF has the critical role of allowing the bosses above to grow the club as a business and allow his coach below to focus purely on the coaching of the players.

The day to day running of football business from transfers, contracts and the Youth Academy all inherently fall at the DoF’s door.

At Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Ajax the blueprint is set for how a club should be run through this model. These massive clubs are prepared for any eventuality from selling key players or losing sought after managers because the DoF model remains a constant.

Paradise / (Photo by Andrew Milligan/Pool via Getty Images)

Celtic and the modern restructure

Celtic fans, rightly so, have grown attached to so many great players and managers. There is, however, fear when the time comes for a Kieran Tierney or Virgil van Dijk to move on, as there is no real forward planning to replace them.

The appointment of a DoF would allow the loss of players to become less painful, as a constant process would be in place for the next star to be plucked from the conveyor belt. This model would create a wider scouting network and tie down the best players in the club’s youth academy.

The youth academy should be the epicentre of all that is good coming out of the club. For too long, however, the best young talent has been snatched away from the club far too easily as the development plan for young players has shuddered almost to a halt.

A director of football would have the potential to keep an eye daily over the academy and how to keep the best players tied down to the club.

This takes us back to Neil Lennon and his old school mentality. His lack of youth player development and opportunities has created as stagnation on the promotion of youth. A new forward-thinking coach, along the lines of an Eddie Howe, I believe would enhance the development of the best young players.

Former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe / (Photo by Robin Jones – AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images)

Transfers over the last decade or so have been a bit hit or miss at the club. For every Moussa Dembele, there is a Vakoun Bayo. This may seem harsh however the lack of innovation when delving into the market is quite frightening.

Celtic should be scouring the world for the best talent, creating a scouting network as far and wide as possible that liaises with the DoF.

For far too long the ‘lucky dip’ approach to signing has failed and vast sums of money have been wasted. The club should have a clear identity of how it wants to play, which means scouts can look for players to fit that identity, not the other way round.

Adam Montgomery, Cameron Harper and Luca Connell during a Celtic training session at Lennoxtown / (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

A possible candidate?

A Ralf Rangnick appointment would be incredible, for the club. Highly sought after due to his success at the Red Bull franchises, he would bring the perfect DoF model.

However, being a popular choice for many high profile clubs this may be out of reach. That said, there are many similar models across Europe and Celtic should have their fingers on the pulse to identify the best candidate.

Along with a new CEO and tactically adept coach, it could bring a dawn of a new era.

Although the season of our lifetime is ultimately going to end in disaster, this is the chance to start again and build a club with a five to ten year model, not a quick fix.

Our thanks to Christopher Gillespie for writing this thoughtful guest article. You can follow him for more Celtic insight on Twitter @GillespieC89.

If you want to write a guest article on 67 Hail Hail, contact us on Twitter, or leave a message on our forum.

In other news, Celtic may have identified a new director of football in Manchester City’s Fergal Harkin.