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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Celtic turn attention to Trap

Irish boss emerges as Bhoys target after Mowbray gets the axe

Roddy Forsyth

IRELAND boss Giovanni Trapattoni and former Irish captain Roy Keane have been linked to the vacant Celtic manager's job in the wake of Tony Mowbray's sacking.

Former Northern Ireland international Neil Lennon is to take over in a caretaker capacity for the immediate future and was last night being quoted among the favourites to take over permanently, along with ex-Celtic star Paul Lambert, current manager of Norwich.

However, there will be financial restrictions placed on the new boss as the Parkhead board -- and the principal shareholder, Dublin-based financier Dermot Desmond -- are acutely aware that attendances have fallen to levels not seen since the club's darkest days in 1994, when Celtic came within minutes of bankruptcy.

Last weekend's home victory over St Johnstone was watched by only 30,000 -- meaning that more than 20,000 season ticket holders are not bothering to turn up, never mind those less frequent spectators whose attendance is spurred by good results.

There's also the cost of acquiring Mowbray and his management team of Mark Venus and Peter Grant and the expense of paying them off after only 10 months.

Owen Coyle turned the Bhoys down last summer, while the possibility of pairing Henrik Larsson with Mark McGhee quickly evaporated as Larsson had personal issues to deal with in Sweden.

The former Hoops idol will, however, undoubtedly be in Desmond's thoughts again because the renewal invitations to season ticket holders will be sent out in the next few weeks and those who are disillusioned by the lack of return on their investment will have to be wooed with something out of the ordinary.

Larsson has subsequently entered management with the Swedish club, Landskrona, but if he is to return to Glasgow it would have to be in tandem with an experienced figure. The trouble for Celtic is that an established name with pedigree won't come cheap.

Like Larsson, Lambert has a prior connection with the club, and has been working his way up the managerial ranks with Livingston, Wycombe Wanderers, Colchester United and Norwich, where his record bears scrutiny. Lambert's spell with Borussia Dortmund, with whom he won a Champions League medal, adds gravitas to his CV, but he's short of the wow factor that would appeal to the fans and directors.

Given that Celtic need someone who could handle the singular pressures of life at Parkhead and who is also something of a showman, Trapattoni should not be ruled out, especially given Desmond's eye for marketing opportunities in Ireland.

Irish Independent

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