John Collins eyes return to management after Celtic exit

Collins, right, says he'll follow Ronny Deila out of Celtic Park. Picture: SNS
Collins, right, says he'll follow Ronny Deila out of Celtic Park. Picture: SNS
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John Collins is ready to pursue a return to frontline management in his own right after confirming he will leave Celtic along with Ronny Deila this weekend.

Assistant manager to Deila for the past two years, former Celtic midfielder Collins will call time on his second spell of employment at the club after they receive the Premiership trophy following Sunday’s final fixture of the season against Motherwell.

The 48-year-old, whose previous stints as a manager were at Hibs and Belgian club Charleroi, revealed he would consider moving overseas again.

“I have now had the benefit of being in different positions in football,” said Collins. “I’ve been a manager, a director of football [at Livingston] and now a coach. I’ve also been a TV pundit. I’ve seen it from all angles now.

“If the right offer comes along, I’ll go straight back in. Going forward, I think I will be either a manager or director of football again. We will see what the future holds, but I am not against going abroad. I have gone abroad before as a manager and as a player. New experiences, new challenges, who knows? There is no rush. I will probably go back into the media first of all”.

Collins believes history may ultimately form a more favourable view of Deila’s two-year tenure which he claims has been subjected to “destructive criticism”.

He feels assessment of Celtic’s current situation lacks perspective and fails to allow for a financial environment which he insists means the days of competing with Europe’s elite teams are gone for good.

While Collins accepts meeting high expectations are part and parcel of working for Celtic, his own experience of playing for the club in a generally bleak period from 1990 to 1996 prompts him to suggest their current domestic dominance should be more enthusiastically embraced by fans.

“We’ve been here two years, we’ve won two titles and it feels like the end of the world for a lot of people,” he said.

“Trust me, when I was a player this club was in a much worse position – no stadium, no titles, a long way from where we are just now. I never won a league title as a playerand it was a tough six years because of that.

“A lot of Celtic supporters forget about those six years. We were behind our rivals Rangers when they were the biggest spenders in Britain. They had half the England team. We were second best and that was a seriously tough time – miles tougher than the last two years, that’s for sure. Being in this city when Rangers are buying Paul Gascoigne, Brian Laudrup, Trevor Steven, Gary Stevens, Richard Gough, Terry Butcher, Mark Hateley – that was seriously tough, coming up against them. Knowing they were probably better than you in seven positions on the pitch.

“We’ve now got a magnificent stadium, have won five titles in a row and are going for a sixth. We’ll maybe look back a few years from now, when it’s not five in a row or ten in a row, maybe when someone else has won it, and think ‘maybe it wasn’t that bad’.

“There is more scrutiny of the Celtic manager every year, more destructive criticism rather than constructive. There are huge demands. With Rangers not being there, you don’t get any credit for victories. That’s the reality, although it will be different next year.

“We are also shopping in different places for players now. Martin O’Neill was signing English Premier League players for Celtic when he was manager. Celtic will never be able to do that again, unless they break the wage structure by four or five times the current rate. I’m not crying about it. It’s just reality. Ronny and I knew it when we came in and the next manager will know it as well.

“Big European clubs have got the finances now because of TV money. It’s not about crowds, as Celtic and Rangers have as big attendances as anyone. But we are a small country and will never get the money the clubs from the big countries now have. The days of competing with them are gone.

“The only thing Celtic can hope for is to produce four or five players from the academy into the first team. That’s the only way to sustain it and get up there.”

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