Defiant John Kennedy reveals Celtic's 'ultimate goal' at the end of an era, and the start of another

Celtic interim manager John Kennedy conceded it was not just Scott Brown’s final appearance for the club that gave the mundane scoreless draw at Hibs a sense of being the “end of an era”.

Celtic interim manager John Kennedy during the Scottish Premiership match between Hibs and Celtic at Easter Road on May 15, 2021, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Yet he refused to see the final Premiership game for Celtic as being an ominous sign of what lies ahead for the now displaced Parkhead powerhouse.

The events at Easter Road may have left Celtic left 25-points adrift of a title-winning Rangers that negotiated the entire league campaign without defeat. It may have been the product of a performance that could have featured at least half a dozen players turning out for the Parkhead side for the final time. It may have been the last game Kennedy took the helm, his record of four wins in 10 matches ensuring a first barren season for the club in 11 years and lowest points tally in 21 years.

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But, with Eddie Howe expected to be appointed Celtic manager imminently and a mighty summer player churn expected under the Englishman and new chief executive Dominic Mckay, the outgoing interim maintained that Celtic’s secondary status need not assume permanence - as it did not when they were last so inept; the John Barnes-Kenny Dalglish season of 2000-01 giving way to Martin O’Neill leading the club to a treble 12 months later.

“Football changes too quickly,” Kennedy said, who stated he had “no idea” what lies ahead for him. “That is the thing, people look at things in isolation and judge purely on things like points totals. Ultimately football can change very quickly. We could have picked up more points this season if things had fallen for us. We weren’t quite in our groove but I have been here long enough to know how football operates. You go into next season, start positively and it can take you anywhere. That is the ultimate goal for the club, stabilise, get everybody in place we need to get in place. Get a good squad and go out and become champions again.

“For me it almost feels like the end of an era. I have been here through some really good times, successful times when we have been on the crest of a wave. This year unfortunately it has not worked out as we would have wished. The club captain is leaving, there will be changes in management and at board level. There will be a number of players leaving, loan players or whatever it might be. You look back and you reflect on what we have achieved over the years. You draw that line then it is time to rebuild and then you move on.”

Brown’s flat farewell, and sorry final season for Celtic, will fade in assessing the impact of the 22-honour claiming Celtic captain, said Kennedy. “I don't think Scott ever set out to create a legacy, but how you behave, what you do, what you deliver, how you treat people and the mark you leave becomes a legacy and certainly he will have a legacy at Celtic and for the players who worked with him. The players have been talking all week about how much of an impact he had on their careers. It is just not in a football sense, it is also how he is a man.”

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