Peter Lawwell can solve Celtic’s woes by hiring former Hoops star Shaun Maloney to replace under-fire head coach Neil Lennon at Parkhead.
According to The Times, Maloney is among a list of potential candidates being considered for the Parkhead hot seat should Lawwell and majority owner Dermot Desmond call time on Lennon’s tenure and fire the Northern Irishman.
Celtic’s hopes of claiming ten Scottish Premiership titles in succession have been dealt a drastic blow by a dire start to the campaign, with Lennon’s stewardship so far returning 11 fewer points than bitter rivals Rangers ahead of Sunday’s fixtures.
Lennon is determined to prove himself to Desmond and Lawwell over the festive fixtures and earn enough points ahead of facing Steven Gerrard’s Gers on January 2 to save his job, with the Hoops at home to St. Johnstone, Kilmarnock, Ross County and Dundee United while only travelling to basement boys Hamilton.
But should he fail, Lennon may find himself replaced by a man who won three league titles and two cups with Celtic in Maloney, who currently sits beside Roberto Martinez in the dugout of the Belgian national side.
While Maloney is yet to take charge of a side in his post-playing days, with spells as the assistant manager in Celtic’s Under 20s and reserves before joining the Belgium set-up, the 37-year-old could be the man to solve the Hoops’ woes.
Maloney played under Martinez at Wigan Athletic between his Celtic exit in 2011 and joining MLS outfit Chicago Fire in 2015, a period which saw the Latics shock English football to beat Manchester City in the FA Cup Final only to be relegated from the Premier League days later.
The 47-time Scotland international left an impression on Martinez, though, as Maloney displayed an “elite” coaching mentality that set him aside from the usual breed of British players he had worked with before.
“There are certain individuals who stand out because they are not normal players brought up in the British structure. Shaun wasn’t built in a system. He was built on an appreciation of space and his technical ability,” Martinez said, via quotes by The Scottish Sun in 2018.
“He caught my eye straight away when I was playing in Britain. He looked different to what was around him. When we started working together at Wigan, I realised he was a deep thinker. He had incredibly high standards and was someone who was ready to mature.
“Moving to Aston Villa opened up his mentality and from that point on you could see he had an elite brain. Shaun has a great mind for detail. He’s very natural on the training ground and has a kind feeling for all the players.”
Lawwell and Desmond may look fondly on Maloney’s ability to bring a fresh approach should they decide to fire Lennon at a time of crisis, while the former Motherwell midfielder’s ability to understand the players will help ease any tensions at Lennoxtown.
“Over the course of his career, he has developed an incredible understanding of how a footballer’s brain goes through different situations,” Martinez added. “He understands what it’s like to go away from your comfort zone and perform in international football. That was always a big enjoyment.
“Shaun’s coaching career will take him wherever he chooses to go and he could also one day be a manager in his own right.”
AND in other news, Celtic would be heading for disaster handing a raw coach his “dream job”.