THE Celtic supporters may well be growing increasingly impatient to learn who Celtic are going to bring in to replace Neil Lennon as manager after six weeks of uncertainty and speculation.

But Sir Kenny Dalglish can understand exactly why the Parkhead hierarchy are, despite the massive rebuilding job which is required this summer and the mounting pressure they are coming under, refusing to be rushed into making an appointment. 

The Celtic, Liverpool and Scotland legend knows his former club have to get the ideal candidate given the magnitude of the challenge which awaits him and cannot be rushed into any knee-jerk decisions simply to placate their fans.

“Dermot (principal shareholder Desmond) will, quite rightly, take his time and analyse who he needs, what he wants and how they go about it,” he said. “Once the manager is appointed they will assess who they should look to sign and what finances are there. It is a big close season for Celtic.”

Yet, the 70-year-old also feels that in John Kennedy, the caretaker manager who he handed his first team Celtic debut to when the centre half was aged just 16 years and 231 days during his own spell in interim charge back in 2000, his old club are in very safe hands.

Sir Kenny has been impressed by how Kennedy has done since stepping up back in February – he is undefeated in four Premiership matches, including one against Rangers – and is confident he will be able to cope with the demands of the Scottish Cup last 16 game against their city rivals at Ibrox a week today.

“I think John has handled it well,” he said. “He has handled himself very well during this. He has been there for a while of course. I gave him his debut when he was 16 years of age. He had to finish early because of a knee injury, but on the coaching side of it he was there when Brendan was there, he was there through Lenny.

“He has done a good job just now as manager and has gone four undefeated. But one was the Old Firm. I think both teams looked tired that day. I don’t know if John’s name is in the hat, that is up to Celtic. But he has certainly not let them down in any way, shape or form.”

Several famous names, well-known managers and highly-rated coaches, including Rafa Benitez, Steve Clarke, Eddie Howe, Roy Keane, Frank Lampard and Enzo Maresca, have been linked with the Celtic vacancy since Lennon stood down.

However, Dalglish, who spent a spell in the dugout at Parkhead himself after John Barnes was sacked as manager, feels that whoever comes in must have the quality that Steven Gerrard at Rangers possesses in abundance if he is to be successful.

“I think the most important thing, and Steven Gerrard has done it fantastically well, if you look back over what he has done, is not to underestimate Celtic,” said the three-time European Cup winner. 

“Steven has never, ever underestimated Rangers, the size of the club. He had respect for the club, he had respect for the people who supported the club, everything about it. He is appreciative in every way of how the people at Ibrox have supported him both financially and otherwise. You can see that has done him no harm at all either.

“If you get somebody who knows what the club means it is important. But if you don’t know the history of Celtic Football Club you have got problems right away. It is a demanding job and they are right to be demanding. They want to have success.

“Some people might say: ‘It is only one team you have to beat!’ But you have to play them four times in the league. It is not an easy problem to solve because Rangers are miles ahead of Celtic at the moment. As they are progressing, Celtic are in transition.”

Sir Kenny returned to his first club Celtic in 1999 to serve as their director of football and can appreciate how much work there is to be done at Parkhead in the coming weeks if they are to challenge Rangers for the Scottish title next season.

However, speaking as he launched nominations for the 2021 Scottish FA Grassroots Awards, presented by McDonald’s, he expressed confidence his home town club were well-placed be to recover from their annus horribilis.

“It is a difficult situation that Celtic find themselves in,” he said. “They have got a whole scenario to reconsider. They have solved the problem with Peter Lawwell retiring by bringing in Dominic McKay earlier than was announced at first.

“That makes sense to me because by the close season, if they have appointed the manager by then, they will be looking for players.

“But then they have got to appoint a director of football. Who comes first? The director of football or the management team? After that, whoever is appointed as manager has got to appoint a captain, which might not be too difficult.

“But Browny (Scott Brown) is a hell of a man to have to replace on the pitch when you consider the success he has had at Celtic. That is a big job as well. I don’t think Dermot will have a quiet summer. The work will have started already.”

McDonald’s ambassador Sir Kenny has been around football long enough to understand not to take anything for granted so he refused to be drawn on what Eddie Howe, the former Bournemouth and Burnley manager, would bring to the role.

“The first thing you have got to ascertain is if he has been asked,” he said. “Everybody wants to get ahead of themselves. I think it is best if you just wait and see who has been approached and who is going to accept it before you start talking about what they are going to do.”


Sir Kenny Dalglish is launching nominations for the 2021 Scottish FA Grassroots Awards, presented by McDonald’s. To nominate your grassroots hero, go to