Very rarely are Celtic ever the underdogs. In fact, supporters of other clubs in Scotland will relish the fact that the Bhoys have had a torrid old season.
They’ve relinquished their grasp on the league title and will walk away from the 2020/21 campaign without a single trophy to display at Parkhead.
With Celtic so often the dominant force in Scotland, they have become accustomed to success and elation.
This is why the current term has been such a difficult one to endure. Neil Lennon, Nick Hammond and Peter Lawwell will have all lost their jobs by the end of the season as a result of it.
There is a certain romance to the 43-year-old’s story within football. He is a legend at AFC Bournemouth, taking them from the fourth tier of English football to the top-flight.
However, if Celtic are looking for someone with a similar story, they should consider appointing Bodo/Glimt manager Kjetil Knutsen.
Like Bournemouth, the Norwegian side are a small club. In fact, they are based in a city which houses just 50,000 people. Consequently, for them to win the Eliteserien – Norway’s top tier – was rather incredible.
Used to finishing towards the lower ends of the table, they were actually relegated in 2016. They managed to secure promotion at the first attempt and then by the end of 2020, Knutsen was leading them to a triumphant title-winning campaign in the Eliteserien.
After being crowned champions in November, the club’s sporting director said: “They thought we were primitives up here. We were direct, we spoke our minds, but we were not primitive. They thought that we were only farmers, fishermen. Some still think that we are.”
That says a lot about what the club have achieved but a lot of their success has been because of Knutsen’s methods and traits; plenty of which would suit Celtic.
First and foremost, he plays a very expansive and open brand of football. It’s a full-throttle approach that saw Bodo/Glimt lose just once last term in the league. It also saw them score a mighty 103 goals, 26 more than Molde who finished second.
The club’s captain Ulrik Saltness called his play style “kamikaze.”
He added: “I don’t think it would be possible to play like that without Bjorn and the mental work we do,” he said. “No, I don’t think that would end very well at all.”
Knutsen isn’t the first coach to deploy a system of all-out attack but it’s evident he’s very effective at extracting the most from his players. Those in the squad had no right on paper to finish as champions but that’s exactly what they did under the Norwegian.
Naturally, teams in the Eliteserien started to deploy negative tactics, playing with a low block. This is how plenty of teams line up against the Hoops in the Premiership but fortunately, Knutsen is flexible.
When he came up against teams who wanted to sit back, he effectively played a 2-3-4-1 formation (displayed below).
This is extremely unique but it allowed Knutsen’s men to gain more freedom in the final third.
The full-backs would play as inverted central midfielders while the centre-backs pushed up to the halfway line in order for the team to press extremely high.
With the wingers hugging the touchline, it allowed the full-backs to make under-laps into the offensive third.
Naturally, this is a tactic that worked on plenty of occasions with Bodo/Glimt only dropping points on four occasions throughout the 2020 campaign.
Last term, they became one of the most free-scoring teams in the whole of Europe, bagging 3.4 goals per 90 minutes. Only RB Salzburg and Ajax had higher expected goals per 90 at 2.7 and 2.9.
Celtic, meanwhile, have managed just over two goals per 90 minutes this season.
Clinical in the penalty area, Knutsen is very much a possession-based coach with Bodo/Glimt one of the most dominant teams in Europe. Last year, they enjoyed 62% of possession and achieved a pass success rate close to 90%.
Adaptable when teams sit back and ruthless in front of goal, the 52-year-old would be perfect for a Celtic team who have lacked inspiration going forward this term.
Against Dundee United a few weeks ago, the Bhoys saw 12 shots saved by the colossal Benjamin Siegrist. It’s unlikely a team controlled by Knutsen would encounter a problem like that, however.
Dermot Desmond would do well to consider him in the coming weeks; he could well be better suited to what Celtic need than Howe.