Category: Archive

Soccer Scene Glasgow Celtic keep Irish tradition in Martin O’Neill

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Joe Behan

Celtic F.C. was formed in 1888 by a Marist called Brother Wilfrid who hailed from Sligo. He attempted to bring the Scottish and Irish together in the heavy populated East of Glasgow by setting up charities to feed and clothe the poor, most of them Irish immigrants. The football club, called Celtic, played Rangers in their first game in somewhat of a more friendly environment then. Times are a little better now, but the lack of trophies has taken the place of food and clothes.

Glasgow Celtics Martin O’Neill fits the bill for hunger and desire which Celtic have been crying out for. The romantic story of a wee lad from Northern Ireland who supported the Hoops is now in the making. The Irish connection will put even more tri-colors in Parkhead and will bring back the history and establishment of the club which has a proud Gaelic bond.

Liam Brady, a Dubliner, was the last Irishman in charge of Celtic. He didn’t last too long, which is now the norm at Celtic. John Barnes, a similar story of a player-to-manager too soon, was chewed up and spat out at Celtic. If it wasn’t for the legendary status that Daglish has at Parkhead, he’d be gone by now. O’Neill’s insistence in becoming the most powerful Celtic manager ever at Parkhead was one of the main reasons for negotiations dragging on as they do at Celtic. The sign of control in Mr. O’Neill’s three-year deal for £4 1/2 million is his choice of football manager not the coach. Daglish is not the only legend that is in question. Tommy Burns may find his position as a manager in assisting coaching toned down.

No doubt O’Neill has the utmost respect for his heroes, but the adamant Irishman wants the responsibilities of running the football club and the Celtic board has given it to him.

The harsh reality of his statement that it is his head on the block brings to Parkhead a personality who is taking charge of his own Glasgow destination, unlike managers before him. His obvious demands to run the show may bring fruit to the time Kenny Daglish is spending at other clubs. John Robertson and Steve Walford, Leicester City’s assistants, are expected to follow O’Neill.

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With the politics out of the way — or are they ever? — it’s now down to the footballing brain of Martin O’Neill. So who exactly is he in the football world? It’s hard to remember O’Neill the player making any big blunders in games when he played for Forest. He played in midfield, where he kept his game simple. A good user of the ball, he was, strong in the tackle, and he could score goals, too. He won the European Cup twice in succession with Nottingham, and he won the European Super Cup. In the international scene he captained the great Northern Ireland team that made it to the quarterfinals in the 1982 World Cup in Spain. O’Neill won 64 caps for his country.

As far as management, he worked through the trenches with Wycombe Wanderers to bring them from the GM Vauxhall Conference to the Football League in 1993. The following year Wanderers and O’Neill were promoted to the Second Division. After a spell with Norwich he went on to be manager of Leicester City for 4 1/2 years. In his first year at Filbert Street he won promotion to the Premiership then kept City in top flight for 3 1/2 years. He reached the League Cup Final three times, winning it twice and gaining invaluable European experience. It has been the combination of domestic and European success that caught Celtic’s eye. More important, the Irishman’s ability to work wonders with lesser clubs is his strength. So what is the plan of action that O’Neill will take when it comes to the actual Celtic game and its team selection?

Working with what you have

The newly appointed Celtic manager will watch every one of last season’s home games on video to assist him in assessing his current playing staff. There may be a few nightmares in store for that task, but the one game that may prove to be a box office hit is the Dundee Utd. game. Youth coach Willie McStay, the Sligo Div. 1 treble champion, has brought on some tremendous talent at Parkhead and, of course, it was Daglish who exposed the bhoys in that game. John Kennedy and Mark Fotheringham, both 16, made their Scottish Premier debut. Simon Lynch scored in the 2-0 victory for the Hoops and Mark Burchill, 12 goals in 16 games, was back in the line up. Other names for the future that Daglish played were Healy, Goodwin and McCann.

While O’Neill will scout at Euro 2000, he will not make any rash decisions on his current senior players. O’Neill emphasized that he is already very much aware of the importance of players like Henrik Larsson and Mark Viduka to the long-term success of Celtic. It’s likely some players will follow O’Neill. Belfast man and Liecester City player Gerry Taggart loves Glasgow Celtic. In fact, he and fellow City player Neil Lennon played

together for Lurgan Celtic. Lennon himself has been linked to the Glasgow giants and he has more that held his own in midfield at Premiership level. The playing staff may be good for the future, but can the board and supporters wait any longer? That’s where the pressure is not Rangers.


Leicester City want Preston North End’s talented young manager, David Moyes, to take over from Martin O’Neill. City have already inquired about Moyes, who has earned a big reputation in guiding Preston to the First Division. He is their first choice, but they also have a shortlist that includes Peter Taylor, Steve Bruce and Bruce Rioch.

The chance to take over at a Premiership club who have qualified for next season’s UEFA Cup would be hard for Moyes to refuse. So while Leicester have made no secret of wanting compensation after making it very difficult for Celtic and O’Neill; it’s ironic that they are now enticing Moyes away from Preston North End.

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