Stick or twist: Every year John Kennedy gets linked with Celtic departure - is now the time?

Whenever a top managerial vacancy comes up in Scottish football, one name features prominently on the bookmakers’ odds list: John Kennedy.

John Kennedy is reportedly a target for Danish outfit FC Midtjylland.
John Kennedy is reportedly a target for Danish outfit FC Midtjylland.

The current Celtic assistant has been linked with Hibs three times since 2019, and was close to moving before Jack Ross appointed. Other cinch Premiership clubs have considered the prospect of approaching the 38-year-old and his high stock is not just confined to the Scottish game, with European outfits taking notice.

The latest is FC Midtjylland of Denmark, who are no strangers to Kennedy given that Celtic faced them last year in the Champions League. According to reports, Kennedy is on their shortlist to replace Bo Henriksen after he paid the price for a lethargic start in the Danish Superliga, although at the time of writing no approach has been made.

There is potential for that to change, however.

Kennedy has retained by Ange Postecoglou and is a key part of his coaching set-up.

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Kennedy does have experience of being the No 1 man, albeit in an interim capacity. He held the fort from February last year until the end of the 2020/21 campaign in the wake of Neil Lennon’s departure. That season, which was supposed to be Celtic’s history-making ten-in-a-row campaign, turned into a disaster, trophy-less and finishing miles off the pace behind Rangers. Yet Kennedy’s performance in the dugout was far from shambolic as he tried to keep Celtic’s show on the road. His only defeats in ten matches were two reversals by the Ibrox outfit in Govan. Some of the football a clearly bedraggled and more-sapped team played was decent, the highlight being a 6-0 thumping of Livingston

That he has maintained his position in Celtic’s backroom team under current manager Ange Postecoglou is an endorsement of his abilities. Parachuted into the coaching set-up back in 2014 by Ronny Deila, Kennedy has also served under Brendan Rodgers. He is highly regarded by those who have worked with him, rising through the ranks to his current position.

As club men go, Kennedy is about as bona-fide as one can get. With the exception of a short loan spell with Norwich in 2008, his whole career – playing, coaching, scouting – has been spent at Celtic. He is in with the bricks. It comes as no surprise to learn that Kennedy is very content there.

However, given his tender age by management and coaching terms, Kennedy is coming to a crossroads at his career. He could argue that the Hibs job (a) came at the wrong time and (b) was not the right move, but Midtjylland has the potential to intrigue. They are one of the biggest clubs in Denmark, who are regularly on the European stage, and could be viewed as the perfect place to hone his trade before trying to land the top job at Celtic permanently, which must be on his bucket list.

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Kennedy was brought on to the Celtic coaching staff by Ronny Deila in 2014.

Postecoglou appears to be in situ for the long run, but when he does leave, will Celtic be comfortable promoting from within? Dermot Desmond has done it once before with Lennon but at present, it feels too much of a gamble given the upward curve the club is travelling on.

Kennedy, of course, may be content to remain as part of coaching staff rather than being the top man. But if he does harbour ambitions of being a manager, FC Midtjylland may just hold appeal.

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