Scottish champions Celtic were rocked today by the news that current boss Neil Lennon had made the decision to step down after four years in charge of the club. Lennon had spent seven years as a player, and made the step up quickly after retiring. Now another ex-player is one of the favourites to take over, but despite excitement from the fans, Celtic legend Henrik Larsson should not be the next manager at the Glasgow club.
This situation is very similar to that of Ryan Giggs at Manchester United. Larsson spent seven glorious years at Parkhead, scoring 174 goals in 221 games and lifting four league titles and eight cups. It was Larsson that scored the opening goal as Celtic beat St. Johnstone in 1998 as they stopped Rangers lifting their 10th league title in a row.
In recent times there has been no Celtic player that has captured the fans attention more than Larsson. In 2002 he was voted the best ever foreign player to pull on the Hoops shirt, and he will forever be remembered as a Celtic legend.
Now is not the right time for Larsson to step into the managerial hot-seat at Parkhead. There is little doubt he would likely win the league in his first season, with no disrespect to the rest of the SPFL, it would take a huge disaster for the other Scottish sides to close the gap at the top.
Larsson’s challenge would come in the Champions League. It would be a baptism of fire for the Swede as he would have to navigate Celtic through three qualification games before reaching the Group Stage. Larsson does have some managerial experience, both nothing in the lower Swedish divisions would prepare him for the pressure of the Champions League.
The best thing for Larsson would be to take an assistant role at Celtic Park, alongside an experienced boss like David Moyes. Continue his coaching education with the club that loves him and after two or three years as a number two, he will be ready to take the top job.
It would be a great shame for Larsson, the club and the fans if he was to take the job now and then fail to guide the club to success. His legendary status would be tainted, and his chance at managing the club he spent seven glorious years with would be gone.
Everyone wants Larsson to be a success as Celtic manager, but now is just not the right time.