FOOTBALL fans are never short of a rumour or two in Glasgow and while the permanent manager position at Celtic Park remains vacant the tongues will be wagging from Coatbridge to Clydebank about who will take up the hotseat in Paradise.
Selectabet takes a look at the runners and riders.
Jose Mourinho 20/1
The latest name to be linked to the post is two-time Champions League winner and one-time Celtic nemesis Jose Mourinho, who was cut from 66/1 to 14/1 yesterday by Paddy Power (now 20/1) following a run of bets. Jose has some history with the Glasgow giants; few Celtic fans will forgive his Porto side's histrionics when they snatched European glory from Martin O'Neill's side in the 2003 UEFA Cup Final.
The Portuguese manager has a glittering CV but he's a divisive character and his style of play wouldn't sit well with a fanbase reared on the romance of playing attacking football the “Celtic way”. That said, they don't come much bigger than the Special One and it would be seen as a major coup if Mourinho found himself preparing for an away match at the Tony Macaroni Stadium, Livingston, come August.
Neil Lennon Evs
The clear front runner for the gig is of course, Neil Lennon; currently in his second spell as gaffer after answering Celtic's SOS following the untimely and somewhat acrimonious departure of the previously deified Brendan Rodgers. The man from Lurgan has enjoyed a long-standing love affair with the club and their fans since since signing for the Hoops almost 20 years ago.
He's barely put a foot wrong since taking up the challenge at the end of February and is on the cusp of delivering Celtic's eighth consecutive league title. After that's secured he'll have the chance to complete an historic treble, Celtic's third in a row, if his team can overcome Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final.
It would be difficult for the board not to hand the reins to Lennon if he delivers both pieces of silverware, despite some fans' reservations over recent performances during his temporary tenure.
Lennon is best priced at Evs with Paddy Power to be appointed on a permanent basis.
David Moyes 6/1
David Moyes raised a few eyebrows with his appearance in the Celtic Park director's box on Saturday, although most of those brows quickly furrowed at the prospect of Celtic turning to the former Everton and Man Utd manager.
The good news for Celtic fans is Moyes was also seen at Ibrox on Sunday, so was perhaps just doing a tour of Scottish football, and is in fact more likely to be the next Scotland manager than to take up the reins in the east end of the city.
Roberto Martinez 4/1
Another name that has been hotly linked with the Celtic job is Roberto Martinez. Now bear with me…
Martinez may be the manager of the No.1 ranked international team in the world, he may be in charge of a golden generation of players such as Hazard, Witsel, Dendoncker, Vertonghen, Dembélé and Batshuyai, to name a few, he may be in with a great chance of winning Euro 2020 and he may have been linked with the Real Madrid job less than six months ago, but when you're married to a girl from Motherwell and have a ready-made assistant manager (Shaun Maloney, 215 appearances, 52 goals for Celtic) as part of your existing backroom team then 2+2 will inevitably add up to five for some hopeful fans.
However, I'm told despite being sounded out by the club, Martinez has offered a “thanks, but no thanks” reply. So you can take him out of the betting despite him being second favourite.
Andre Villas Boas 25/1
It would be crass to say the best thing to come out of Largs was the ferry to marvellous Millport, when in fact the football world owes a huge debt to the small seaside town, 33 miles from Glasgow. Many coaches have earned their spurs at the SFA's coaching facility on the Scottish coast, included in that number is Andre Villas Boas.
The Portuguese coach is a disciple of Jose Mourinho and, as part of the scouting backroom, played a hand in the aformentioned 2003 victory over the Bhoys, before embarking on a solo career that saw him manage in the Premiership as the boss at Chelsea and Spurs. Following a stint in China he chased a long-held ambition to be a rally driver and his current LinkedIn status no doubt reads “between jobs”.
That is the Celtic board's favourite status (no compensation you see) and Boas is an intriguing outlier for the job. I hear his name has been casually mentioned internally. At 25/1 he shouldn't be ruled out.
Steve Clarke 6/1
Six months or so ago, Steve Clarke would have been at the top of this betting market but something's changed to push him out of the reckoning. There's no denying the incredible impact he's made at Rugby Park; in his first calendar year his points tally was on a par with the seemingly untouchable Celtic but Clarke appears to be getting weighed down by the perils of Scottish Fitba and is cutting a frustrated figure.
His demeanour of late can be best described by one of my favourite Scottish words; crabbit. Results have seen his side slip from serious contenders for second place, to the possibility of being usurped by fifth-place Hibs before the season ends. His post-match interviews are peppered with irritable accusations of refereeing incompetence of which he's growing thoroughly fed-up.
His recent condemnation of sectarian abuse would suggest he'd prefer a return down south when his time is up at Kilmarnock although it would be difficult for him to refuse any serious approach by the club he reportedly supported as a boy.
Rafa Benitez 14/1
Newcastle United's Rafa Benitez is another gaffer who's seen his odds slashed for the Celtic job.
The Spaniard’s contract at St James’ Park expires this summer and talks over an extension don’t appear to be going anywhere fast. That has fuelled speculation that has saw his odds cut from 20/1 to 5/2 with Betfair a few weeks ago.
Unlike the other contenders mentioned above, there is no Celtic back story for Rafa and any move to Parkhead would be determined by his contract situation at Newcastle. This one feels like a longer shot than most as reflected in the 14/1 odds.
Best of the rest
Other notable names listed in the betting are;
- Michael O'Neill 25/1 – the Northern Ireland boss was touted for the job before Brendan Rodgers was appointed and was very close to taking the Scotland gig. He's done little wrong in the last three years to be thought of as any less of a contender than he was in 2016.
- Marco Rose 66/1 – the 42-year-old won over the Celtic fans by donning a green and white scarf following his RB Salzburg side's match at Celtic Park earlier in the season. He's one of Europe's up and coming coaches but reports of a move to Borussia Monchengladbach appear to rule him out of the running.
- David Wagner 13/2 – the former Huddersfield coach had been as short as 4/1 with Paddy Power but it looks more likely he'll be returning to Germany as manager of Schalke if BBC reports are to be believed.
Beware the Unknown Rookie
With a fabled 10 in a row within touching distance for the Hoops it's unlikely the board will take on a risky appointment, however they do have some previous. Few had heard of Ronny Deila before he was appointed in 2014 from Norwegian minnows Strømsgodset.
It was an imaginative appointment, and not without it's success – Deila delivered three trophies in the his two-year spell, but the general consensus was the job was too big for him. It would be a huge surprise if a relative unknown was tasked with delivering the record-equalling 9th and record-breaking 10th titles in a row but you can never say never.
Selected Latest Odds at Paddy Power
- Evs Neil Lennon
- 4/1 Roberto Martinez
- 6/1 Steve Clarke
- 6/1 David Moyes
- 13/2 David Wagner
- 8/1 Martin O'Neill
- 14/1 Rafael Benitez
- 20/1 Jose Mourinho
- 25/1 Andre Villas Boaz
- 25/1 Michael O'Neill
- 40/1 Jack Ross
- 66/1 Henrik Larsson
- 66/1 Marco Rose
What do you think?
Who do you think will be the next Celtic Manager? Who do you want to be the next Celtic manager, and why?
Let us know in the comments section below.