In new chief executive Dominic McKay, interim manager John Kennedy is confident it will be presided over by a man driven to see the club succeed. Kennedy had his first meeting with McKay last week, a hook-up he describes as merely “a greeting and an introduction”, with the former Scottish Rugby Union chief operating officer going round to all the Lennoxtown training staff along with the club’s outgoing chief executive Peter Lawwell.
And in making the transition from Celtic season book holder to the top job in the structure, Kennedy considers McKay to be ideally placed to know exactly what is required to deliver the club from the depths of this season – which will require him to get the appointment of Eddie Howe as manager over the line, recast the personal across the entire football department and undertake a comprehensive squad overhaul.
“He [McKay] knows about the club. He’s been around it long enough from the outside. He understands Celtic, so it’s a good start,” said Kennedy. “Albeit he is coming from a different sport, but he’s been in the sporting environment, so he has good experience to come in and offer a different dynamic to the club. He’s obviously a young, hungry guy who sees this as a challenge and a good step for him. Obviously, there are always challenges at Celtic. There’s obviously a big one this season in terms of the changes and probably turnaround and management situation and everything else that might need doing. There’s a lot of work to be done, so he’ll have to get his teeth into that quickly.”
Kennedy will take charge of Celtic for a third and final time against Rangers come Sunday, with a win at Ibrox required to prevent the club failing to win at least one derby in a season for the first time in 21 years. The 37-year-old has been tipped for the sporting director/director of football Celtic intend to create, but maintains his focus has not gone beyond preparations for his team’s last opportunity to end their rivals’ hopes of replicating the unbeaten league campaign that underpinned Celtic’s invincible treble season of four years ago. However, he did not rule out being interested in such a position, even as he insisted there was “nothing in” reports he could work with Howe in such a capacity.
“I haven’t had any discussions with the club about that position. At no point have I spoken to anyone about that,” he said. “In terms of me going forward, ever since I stopped playing, I have always been in a position where I feel I am progressing in the right way. I have never felt like I have stood still. I have always felt I’m in a good place. I have never pigeon-holed myself. If the challenge is right and I think it is a good opportunity, then I will always look at something. I would never close anything off. I very much enjoy being on the pitch, I’ll say that. I just have to sit down in the next two or three weeks and see what my options are and what’s the right next step for me.”