A new CEO arrives in the summer in the form of Dom McKay, involved in the Scottish Rugby setup. It is expected he will bring in a more continental model, with a Director of Football expected to be appointed in the near future. However, the new manager for the 2021-22 season might be someone who Celtic fans will already know in the form of Michael O’Neill.
The former Northern Ireland job has worked hard to gain respect in his profession. As a former player at SPL and Premier League level, he was a well-respected player who was expected to be a hit in management. Having taken on various roles so far, it was his time at his national side, Northern Ireland, that impressed the most. He took them to a UEFA European Championships, and nearly took them to a FIFA World Cup. Now at Stoke City, though, things have not worked out quite as intended.
Life in the Potteries has been challenging, and team success as a team who as a Premier League mainstay has been hard to fine. Would O’Neill, then, fit in with the needs at Celtic?
Could Michael O’Neill succeed at Celtic?
The worry for fans would be that so far in his career, O’Neill has a matching history with another suggested name in Scotland manager Steve Clarke: they both play pragmatic football. Also, neither are used to working in a ‘winning’ dressing room as head coach, expected to get players ready to play at 100% every single game. Could O’Neill find that ruthless streak to match his pragmatism?
Also, for Celtic fans, the fear is that it would be another appointment of a manager who would see Celtic as a huge opportunity. That might sound odd, but a regular fan complaint is that Brendan Rodgers aside, most Celtic managerial appointments are insular, lacking in thought, and often seen as lacking in ambition. Many times, the manager is seen as someone who will view Celtic as their career pinnacle.
As a selling club in the modern world, though, Celtic fans would rather a manager in the same vein as their key signings: young, ambitious, quality, and capable of moving on. After seeing history scuppered by unprepared thinking and poor decisions, are Celtic fans really willing to accept another ‘sensible’ appointment, or would they rather see more bombast and ambition?
O’Neill is a good manager, but is he the right coach for Celtic?