At the end of last season, Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard gleefully revealed his excitement at potentially winning ten in a row.
For the Hoops, it felt inevitable. The script was written and it was a foregone conclusion that Neil Lennon’s men would cap off a historic decade of dominance.
However, we should all know by now that very rarely does sport follow a script. This season, the paper has been torn to shreds and rewritten with unrelenting drama at Parkhead.
Celtic are no longer the crushing force they used to be and have relinquished their grasp on the Premiership to their biggest rivals Rangers. They have handed it over on a silver platter too, as the Gers went unbeaten and eventually finished 25 points ahead of the Bhoys.
It has been an embarrassing campaign but, for every torrid result on the pitch, matters off it have also been rough as well. Fans have protested and the club’s hunt for a new manager has not made proceedings any easier.
Lennon left Paradise at the back end of February and they still haven’t replaced him.
Eddie Howe is the name on everyone’s lips but whether he comes to Glasgow is uncertain. A deal is in place but, with the 43-year-old waiting on the result of Bournemouth’s season to ascertain whether he can lure some of their coaches to Parkhead, he has not yet signed on the dotted line.
If a deal for Howe falls through, Dermot Desmond and Dominic McKay need to focus their efforts on hiring Lucien Favre.
The Swiss coach has been on their radar over the last few months and an interview has even taken place.
The 63-year-old might not possess the same energy as the younger Howe but his football certainly preaches a modern and forward-thinking game. His bold and exciting style reinvigorated Borussia Dortmund when he was first hired by the German outfit, sticking by a principle he set out on his first day in the job.
“Of course my wish is that we can play through our entire team, starting from the goalkeeper, finding intelligent ways to get to the goal,” Favre commented upon his arrival at Signal Iduna Park.
For a Celtic side who love to dominate possession, amassing 61.9% of the ball this season, that would be ideal.
The Hoops have been missing a patient approach with the likes of Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie intent on shooting from distance. Favre would be all too keen to inform them that this isn’t the most intelligent of ways to goal – instead, he’d help Celtic’s attackers to find better spaces and more creative passing to unlock a massed defence.
A passage which perfectly illustrates his brand of football can be found on the Bundesliga’s official website. It reads: “If Jürgen Klopp’s BVB played ‘heavy metal football’, Favre’s Dortmund are modern jazz: there’s a lot of room for improvisation and individual expression, but it’s within a well-defined framework that ensures all the pieces fit harmoniously.”
Dortmund never won the German top flight under his stewardship but they scored goals in abundance and recovered well from nearly crashing out of the Champions League places.
BVB scored the second-most goals in the Bundesliga last term, netting 84 during a season where they fell just short to Champions League winners Bayern Munich. Favre was eventually sacked but the job he did in Germany was impressive, losing just 24 of his 110 matches in charge and leading them through a testing transition period.
Speaking exclusively to Football FanCast earlier this year, Bundesliga expert Daniel Pinder said: “Obviously he was at Nice in France and then he replaced Thomas Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund, so it wasn’t a big rebuild. But they lost players like Ousmane Dembele, [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang and he had to bring in those other players for, you know, less funds than they had.
Pinder continued: “Looking at it, he has done a decent job at rebuilding. Whether he can go into a job that’s already there all set up for him, I think that’s a different matter. But if he goes into a rebuild job, I think it’d be a pretty decent appointment.”
Coincidentally, this is a similar job with the one he would face at Parkhead. Celtic are in danger of losing the likes of Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer, so they will likely need to find cost-effective ways to replace them.
One of the ways Favre replaced Dembele was to introduce Jadon Sancho into the fray. Signed from Manchester City in 2017, he has become one of the most electrifying young wingers in European football. Since moving to Germany, he has scored 50 goals and registered 64 assists in 136 appearances.
With Karamoko Dembele coming through at Celtic, Favre could look towards him to have a similar impact in replacing the likes of Mohamed Elyounoussi and Christie.
Described as “outstanding” by Germany international Mario Gotze, he’s clearly admired by players with whom he has crossed paths.
There is plenty to like about Favre; he plays attractive football, can change the fortunes of a football club and is good with young footballers. That makes him pretty perfect for Celtic in our book.