If one of Neil Lennon’s New Year resolutions was to revive Celtic, then he is currently doing a bad job.
The Hoops are without a win in 2021, and are 23 points behind their fierce rivals.
It has been a season to forget and judging by their record of seven victories in the last 22 matches, it’s time for Lennon to go.
He’s claimed that he won’t leave of his own accord, and thus, the only way he’ll walk through the exit door is if Dermot Desmond and Peter Lawwell give the Northern Irishman his marching orders.
For the good of the club, it needs to happen as soon as possible. Eddie Howe has been linked with the hotseat but now another name has entered the conversation.
The Mirror reported this weekend that after leaving Chinese club Dalian Professional, Rafael Benitez is in the frame to succeed Lennon at Parkhead.
This would be an eye-catching appointment, one that could completely revitalise the Hoops in a whole host of ways.
Now 60 years of age, the Spaniard is well travelled and has a glistening CV – one that looks a lot more eye-catching than Lennon’s.
He has won the Champions League, UEFA Cup and the Europa League, while he’s also proven victorious in the Club World Cup. This is a coach with a stellar reputation, someone who has become recognised as a fabulous motivator.
Speaking about his spell under Benitez, Harry Kewell noted his ability to get players to agree with him no matter what: “He was the master of you walking into his office thinking…I know this is what I am going to say…and you’d walk out agreeing to everything he said,” the Australian began.
“Rafa Benitez was fantastic, but he’d say do this and I’d say but what about this way, and he’d respond – ‘fantastic but this is what I want you to do,” Kewell concluded.
For a Celtic side who look as though they’re being given an easy ride by Lennon right now, this would be game-changing. It feels like nothing the current Hoops boss says works and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest he’s lost parts of the dressing room.
Yet, Benitez is someone that looks for solutions and can adapt well to his surroundings. The very fact he went from Real Madrid to Newcastle shows he offers a vast array of different qualities.
Though, it’s his meticulous use of analytics that could be the most beneficial for Celtic. It was revealed last year by Simon Ferry that Lennon was remarkably still using Brendan Rodgers’ training sessions. That detrimental method, however, could all change if Benitez walks through the door.
At Newcastle, Benitez installed a very particular brand of training, a highly organised intense affair.
His sessions would usually last 60-90 minutes, with a firm emphasis on exercises related to game preparation and tactics. 80% of the session would be work with the ball, while the other 20% would purely be on fitness. This type of organisation would be perfect for the Bhoys. After all, Lennon is hardly a mastermind when it comes to the training pitch.
The former Liverpool boss has also used analytics to his advantage. At Anfield, he used a Spanish tool called Amisco. It has since merged with Prozone and Opta but Benitez would collect as much analysis and statistics as possible to then feed down to his players.
Newcastle players and staff were fed intricate levels of detail when he was in the northeast of England. Assessing how their opponents lined-up for corners in previous seasons is a prime example.
Although he’d be exceptional at Lennoxtown, it is surely his reputation that would command the most respect.
There is a certain aura about the 60-year-old, one that could add fresh energy to Celtic. If Desmond can lure him to Glasgow, it would be one of his finest hours yet.