The Man Waiting In The Wing


The Celtic job, It’s biggest job in Scotland at the moment without a shadow of a doubt. It requires a certain type of character to be chosen for such a job. You need to have a certain aura about you like no matter the situation you will be cool calm and collective and will be able to steer the ship in the right direction. You are the man responsible for the hopes and dreams not only for a squad of players but for millions of fans all over the globe. As a Celtic manager who must understand the traditions of what such a historic club in European football stands for and respect the place it holds at the top table. It’s essential that you have a connection with the fans as they are the heart and soul of Celtic and are to be fair what the club is most famous for. Most importantly though you have to believe in a certain ethos, that the ball has to be kept at all times, it must be kept on the deck as much as possible, that the play will be centred around attack and that wingers will run at defenders all day long. The players must be instructed to get the crowd on their feet and keep the songs echoing around the stadium. This is what is known by the Celtic faithful as “The Celtic Way” and fail to understand and successfully carry out this task will lead to the inevitable outcome of failure.

The current Celtic boss lacks what is mentioned above although he done the Ronny Roar, and he’s been seen in pubs socialising with Celtic fans, he doesn’t have that killer edge he doesn’t carry the same respect as McNeil, O’Neil, Lennon etc. There’s no aura as I mentioned he’s simply the quiet man in the corner, he’s the mate you have that you forget to invite out half the time, don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with being the reserved man in the room however when you are the Celtic boss it’s all about respect and in my opinion nice guy Ronny just doesn’t command it.

One man that would however and I feel is the outstanding candidate for the top job if Deila was to fall on his sword would be Allan Stubbs. The job he has done at Hibernian taking over from Terry Butcher is nothing short of remarkable, he took over a sinking ship who to be fair where masters of their own downfall when it came to relegation from the SPL however he’s got them to be the inform team in the country playing some fantastic football and is getting himself a reputation as the hottest prospect in the Scottish game.

Now Stubbs ticks all the box’s when it comes to the Celtic managers job as he been at the club before he’s wore the famous hoops and understand what the club means to its supporters therefore you know from the offset that it’s a perfect relationship waiting to blossom. When Stubbs moved to Celtic back in the late 90’s he was purchased from Bolton Wanderers for £4million, he was purchased to be the main focal point of the defence and try and plug the gap in the Celtic back four allowing them to have a better chance of stopping bitter rivals Rangers clinching 9 in a row.  History will tell you that although this never happened with immediate effect he was an integral part of the side which eventually won the league the following season ensuring that there was no 10 in a row parade going through Glasgow that summer. Over the course of his 4 years as a player at Celtic Stubbs went on to grab himself two championship winners medals as well as two winners medals for the Scottish Cup.

So it’s certainly safe to say his time in the green half of Glasgow was definitely a success. What Stubbs will have grasped from his time in the Glasgow goldfish bowl, is the true understanding of the passion from the support, the expectation levels and more importantly he knows how to be a winner.

Before taking up the helm at Hibernian Stubbs was sounded out by the Everton chairman for the vacant manager job which was eventually awarded to Roberto Martinez, Stubbs was already employed by the club as a youth coach but after not getting the top job he continued to work with the kids coming through the academy.

It wasn’t long before a big job came calling though for the Englishman, Hibs gave him a call in the summer of 2014 and he landed his first full time managers position. The undeniable success from Hibs over the last season and a half has one main driving force and that’s Stubbs, he brought a style of play to Hibs that the fans at Easter Road haven’t seen in years as well as brining success to the club. In his first season in charge he led Hibs to a Scottish Cup semi Final as well as the Semi Finals of the Playoffs for the Premiership. He gained plaudits for the progression in some of Scotland’s finest young talents such as Jason Cummings, Fraser Fyvie, and of course Scott Allan.

The well documented drama that followed that summer with the Scott Allan transfer will have held Stubbs in good stead as well due to this is what most transfers in and out of Celtic are like and not just the prized asset jumping ship, each player in and out that main door is scrutinised like they will never experience again. What is key for the modern day manager in the Scottish game is that you have to be able to wheel and deal, you must have good contacts in the game that will allow you to snatch up a player who is worth a lot more than what you get him for as it’s all about the sell on, this has been highly effective for Celtic in recent years and Stubbs proved he knows how to spend a transfer budget as over the summer he uses the Allan money to bring in the likes of John McGinn from St Mirren he signs \Liam Henderson on loan from Celtic, secures the services of the keeper Oxley from Hull for another year, a few others players are brought in to strengthen the squad and it certainly worked as Hibs went on a 3 and a half month run where the only team they lost to was Rangers.

Having the strange concept of Rangers and Celtic not being in the same league has also given Stubbs a unique experience that no Celtic manager would have had, he’s had a head to head battle with Rangers directly as a main title contender. Now what I’m meaning by that is Deila for example has played against Rangers once in his 2 year spell in charge, but prior to taking the job he has never faced Rangers before, he knew nothing of what it’s like to be going toe to toe with them for a title. Stubbs on the other hand has now done this with Hibs so if he was indeed to replace Deila then he already knows what’s it like to be in  managerial position where every game is a must win because if you don’t then Rangers will run away with the title.

The tricky point for Stubbs and Hibs this year is that the big game at Easter Road that was set for the end of March has had to be moved to accommodate Scottish Cup Quarter Final matches therefore it will now take place towards the last few weeks of the season and with Gers being 8 points clear unless a miracle happens it’s a safe bet that the league will be won by Warburton and his men by then.

The entire on goings at Hibs this season and the successes that are happening are just tallying up for Stubbs and pointing him onto bigger and better things, he manages to pull off another master stroke and gets Hibs into the Final with a 2-1 win over St Johnstone at Tynecastle. Meaning that he has his first chance of silverware. Furthermore he pulled of the coupe of signing Anthony Stokes on loan for the rest of the season to help with the task of catching Rangers.  Throwing in a clawback of a two goal deficit against Hearts away and scoring with the last kick of the ball forcing a replay and then going on to beat Hearts in the replay it’s safe to say January/ February was a good spell for Stubbs and his men.

Having said all this there is a lot of work to be done between now and the end of the season as its essential that Hibs get up this year not just for them but for the greater good of Scottish football our game needs all its big games to be in its top tier. With the form of the likes of United, Thistle Motherwell it would be a surprise at all if both Rangers and Hibs end up back where they belong in the top tier of  Scottish Football.

Celtic may end up sticking with Deila all this talk of who replaces him might end up all for nothing but in my eyes he has to go he’s on borrowed time and yes give him to the end of the season but once this year’s up and we have all sat and enjoyed the Euro’s then in my opinion it should be a case of thanks Mr Deila but it’s not been good enough and when that is indeed the case the first number on the Peter Lawell speed dial should be non-other than Mr Stubbs.


Author: Steven McMonagle - McMonagle Soccer