This season couldn’t have been much more disastrous for Celtic as they set out to complete what would have been a historic eighteen.
Things are not going well on and off the pitch with manager Neil Lennon under a lot of pressure.
On the pitch they have failed in both the Champions League and the Europa League and find their attempt to win a tenth straight Scottish Premiership title in tatters as they drag their fierce rivals with Rangers by 20 points.
They can reduce that to 14 if they win their two games in hand, but there is still a tall order to close the gap with Steven Gerrard.
And they found themselves in a war of words with Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon after deciding to take a hot-weather training trip to Dubai as the UK began the battle against the new variant of the coronavirus.
The trip ended up being a disaster as Christopher Jullien tested positive for COVID, which caused a number of first-team players as well as manager Neil Lennon to miss their first two matches in Scotland – which all ended up being two ended in a draw.
Changes are needed in Parkhead, with former Hoops forward John Hartson saying relieving former teammate Lennon from his post would be the best course of action.
Hartson said: “I’m an expert, but I care how the fans care, I’m a fan and a former Celtic player and it’s just really disappointing how long this season has been. I think a change is needed.
“I send my best wishes to Neil and good luck when he needs it, but losing the league in such a big season like they did was very disappointing.
“Not just me look at Chris Sutton, Stan Petrov, Alan Thompson and Henrik Larsson (ex-teammates) we all love Neil and want him to succeed and we were all thrilled when he brought the quadruple triple back but I really think , with the situation in the league, you need a change from the bottom up, I really do.
“All of this must be changed and it must happen very soon.
“Maybe the players need a different voice. Neil might want a new challenge, a new start. Sometimes it doesn’t work, Neil is smart enough, he has to see this.
“It took me all this time to say that I would like to see a change, a new staff, a freshness, something different. Neil did an incredible job. His trophy has been fantastic both as a player and as a manager.
“I just think the club have to say that they are going to change managers, whether there is going at the end of the season or now, it’s hard for me to say but I think it has to be done. The time has come.”
A number of interesting names have been suggested for the Celtic position if Hartson’s wish is indeed granted.
The big favorite to be the Hoops’ next permanent boss is Eddie Howe at 2/7, according to Sky Bet. He has been out of work since leaving Bournemouth last summer.
Just behind is John Kennedy (8/1), who is Celtic’s current assistant.
Jack Ross (also 8/1), former Sunderland boss who is currently at Hibernian, is also said to be in the running, while former Celtic boss Martin O’Neill is 12/1. His last managerial post was in 2019 at Nottingham Forest, but the Northern Irishman only lasted five months.
Manchester United legend and former Celtic boss Roy Keane is 16/1, while Dan Petrescu, Damien Duff and even club legend Henrik Larsson are underdogs. Below you can see Sky Bet odds on the next permanent Celtic manager.
Next permanent Celtic manager
* Odds according to Sky Bet
- Eddie Howe – 2/7
- John Kennedy – 1/8
- Jack Ross – 1/8
- Martin O’Neill – 1/12
- Roy Keane – 14/1
- Gordon Strachan – 20/1
- Stephen McManus – 20/1
- Damien Duff – 25/1
- Dan Petrescu – 25/1
- Henrik Larsson – 25/1
- Paul Lambert – 25/1
- Veljko Paunovic – 25/1
However, talkSPORT’s Simon Jordan is not convinced Celtic is the right job for Howe.
Jordan said in November: “If you’re Eddie Howe, do you really want this?
“We’re about to see the Rangers gain momentum again, they’ve improved exponentially and it might be difficult to catch up with them this season.
“So why would Eddie Howe want to be the manager in charge when Celtic’s possible tenth consecutive title is lost?”
“It’s a huge job and coming from Bournemouth to Celtic… the expectations are very different.
“I wouldn’t consider Eddie Howe a very good candidate for Celtic to stop the current rot that is there.”