New Celtic boss must cut player numbers warns Billy Stark

Billy Stark says size of Celtic's squad is too large. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS Group
Billy Stark says size of Celtic's squad is too large. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS Group
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Former Celtic assistant manager Billy Stark claims that whoever is selected to succeed Ronny Deila at the Premiership champions-in-waiting will have no option but to slash the size of the first-team squad at Parkhead.

Stark, who was No 2 to Tommy Burns from 1994 to 1997, insists that having so many players sitting on the bench or in the stands is a recipe for discontent and he believes that the current situation should never have been allowed to develop.

Deila has signed – or had signed on his behalf – 23 players in his two seasons as manager and next term that pool will be swelled by the return from loans of Stefan Scepovic, Anthony Stokes, Darnell 
Fisher, Aidan Nesbitt, Eoghan O’Connell and Nadir Ciftci.

Stark argues that the new manager must possess a personality single-minded enough to take an axe to the dead wood.

“I think Celtic need an established manager,” he said. “The size of the club means they need an experienced man who knows how to handle a 
dressing room.

“Ronny has said what he’s said about how it’s run but, for me, with 30-odd players in that dressing room, I’d be waking up in the middle of the night worrying about how I’d control that number.

“It’s impossible to have over 30 players and keep everyone happy. An experienced boss wouldn’t deal with that number because, these 
days, that’s what management is about.

“I would guess the first thing they’ll do is cut the numbers back. I don’t think I’d be in the minority having the view that Celtic have far too many 
players so I’d expect the new manager to address that.

“Basically, it’s about recruiting the right players and motivating them: if you can do that then you should achieve what you set out to achieve. A big part of that is managing them on a day-to-day basis and getting the best out of them.”

There have been disgruntled footballers ever since teams were restricted to 11 starting members, which is another reason why Stark believes there should be a clear-out. “I always laugh at the phrase ‘they’ve lost the dressing-room’ because it’s absolute nonsense,” he said.

“Back in my day there were people who didn’t like the manager because they weren’t playing and that’s the way it will always be.

“A manager’s skill is to accept that people will feel that way but talk to them in such a manner to keep them feeling part of it. You have to keep people motivated if they’re going to work properly. However, 
having 30-odd players makes that impossible.”