5 realistic successors to Rodgers at Celtic

The Celtic boss has been linked to a Premier League return

Matt Gault

After a dispiriting end to his time at Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers headed north to Glasgow and embarked on a new challenge at Celtic in 2016.

In the two years since, the Northern Irishman has taken the Hoops to unprecedented levels of domestic dominance, capturing a historic ‘Double Treble’ at the end of last season.

Rodgers loves Celtic but there is a sense of inevitability over his return to England in the future. He has conquered Scottish football and will surely want a crack at rebuilding his reputation south of the border.

While he ruled himself out of the running for the Aston Villa job recently, Rodgers would find it difficult turning down an offer from a Premier League side. Now, with reports suggesting that Newcastle will target the 45-year-old if Rafael Benitez leaves St James’ Park, our friends at Football Whispers look at five men who could realistically take up the reins at Parkhead.

Michael O’Neill

Rodgers’ compatriot O’Neill started his management career in Scotland with Brechin City but has earned plenty of plaudits during his seven years as Northern Ireland boss.

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The 49-year-old guided the Green and White Army to Euro 2016 before narrowly missing out on qualification for this year’s World Cup. A fine man-motivator as well as an astute tactician, O’Neill turned down the chance to take over at Scotland before Alex McLeish was appointed.

With his experience in Scotland both as player and manager, O’Neill will almost certainly emerge as a frontrunner if Rodgers departs.

Malky Mackay

While he may not be viewed as the most glamorous name, Mackay spent five years at Celtic as a player before joining Norwich City in 1998.

His managerial career has yielded mixed results. Incidentally, he started by succeeding Rodgers at Watford in 2009 before moving to Cardiff in 2011. There, he guided the Bluebirds to the League Cup final in 2012 before leading them to the Championship title the following season.

He was sacked halfway into his first season in the Premier League and joined Wigan in November 2014, lasting five months.

He is currently the SFA’s Performance Director but may be open to his first managerial job in Scottish club football.

David Moyes

Another high-profile Scot who has never managed a club in his native land, Moyes has been out of work after leaving West Ham at the end of last season.

Despite a disastrous stint at Manchester United followed by ill-fated spells with Real Sociedad and Sunderland, Moyes is a coach of vast experience and aptitude. His decade at Everton cannot be overlooked and he guided the Hammers to safety last season under difficult circumstances.

The 55-year-old would certainly relish the opportunity to return to Celtic, 35 years after he left to join Cambridge United in the formative stages of his playing career.

Shaun Maloney

The former midfielder left his post as Celtic reserves boss earlier this season to take up a full-time role as the assistant to Belgium manager Roberto Martinez, under whom he played at Wigan between 2010 and 2013.

Maloney’s strong ties with Celtic coupled with a burgeoning coaching career make him an intriguing proposition.

At 35, he is untested at this level but would be a popular appointment among fans. 

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Stephen Robinson

Another Northern Irishman, Robinson has attracted plenty of admirers for the work he has done at Motherwell.

Appointed in 2017, the 43-year-old led Well to two cup finals last season, falling to Celtic in both of them.

Having guided the club to seventh in the Scottish Premiership last season, this year has been a struggle, with only five points from nine games at the time of writing.

However, Robinson’s achievement in turning Motherwell into a well-organised, highly competitive unit has gone entirely unnoticed.

Some may feel the Celtic job would be too much of a leap, but Robinson revels in proving his doubters wrong.

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