Hoops-mad Trevor Sinclair believes Stoke City boss Michael O’Neill is the ideal candidate to replace Neil Lennon at Celtic, speaking to talkSPORT (24 February, 10.30am).
One of the major criticisms levelled at Lennon during his final few months in the Parkhead dugout centred on his apparent inability to get the best out of arguably Celtic’s most gifted squad since the early 2000s.
Lennon, many said, had a team consisting of Odsonne Edouard, Olivier Ntcham, Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor performing far worse than the sum of their parts.
No wonder Sinclair, the Celtic-supporting former England international, wants another Northern Irishman to swap Staffordshire for Scotland.
Portadown-born 51-year-old O’Neill has a knack of turning a bunch of individuals into a tight-knit collective, taking a limited Northern Ireland side to Euro 2016 against all odds before dragging crisis-hit Stoke away from the Championship relegation zone to the verge of the play-offs.
While Rangers canter into the distance, glory in their grasp, a Celtic side expected to lose Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer in the summer face a substantial rebuilding project on and off the field.
And, for Sinclair, O’Neill’s CV shows he’s the right man for the job.
“I think they’ve got to bring in an experienced manager who knows about recruitment and the academy,” says Sinclair, who believes Celtic must do more to lure the most exciting, home-grown talent to the green half of Glasgow.
“Letting players like John McGinn and Andy Robertson go down to England… they’ve got to be taking all the best Scottish players.
“I would look at Michael O’Neill. He’s done a fantastic job with the Northern Ireland national team, he’s done a superb job with Stoke City.
“(O’Neill) is a David Moyes kind of manager. He knows the game inside out, how to run clubs from top to bottom.
“You need a manager like that to come in and give the club a shake – and I think that’s what is needed.”
In November 2019, O’Neill stepped down from the Northern Ireland post to take over an expensively assembled Stoke side glued to the bottom of the Championship and in danger of a second relegation in three years.
Flash forward to February 2021 and the Potters are ninth in the table, four points off the top six.
Celtic’s situation isn’t quite so drastic – but signs suggest they’re in need of a similar reboot.