Ronny Deila backs John Collins to replace him at Celtic

Outgoing Celtic manager Ronny Deila believes his assistant John Collins should be regarded as a credible candidate to replace him in charge of the Scottish '¨champions.

Celtic boss Ronny Deila believes John Collins, centre, and John Kennedy, right, could step up to the roles of manager and assistant manager when he leaves at the end of the season. Picture: SNS
Celtic boss Ronny Deila believes John Collins, centre, and John Kennedy, right, could step up to the roles of manager and assistant manager when he leaves at the end of the season. Picture: SNS

Former Hibs boss Collins has barely registered in the speculation over who will succeed Deila, with bookmakers currently pricing him at odds as long as 100-1 for the job.

Following Deila’s decision to step down at the end of the season, the future of both Collins and first-team coach John Kennedy at Celtic have yet to be clarified by the club. But Deila believes both men are capable of playing a key role in taking Celtic forward and maintaining their present status as Scotland’s leading team.

“That’s possible, everything is possible,” said Deila when asked if Collins and Kennedy could be promoted to the posts of manager and assistant manager.

“They have both seen what it’s all about and have also been at the club before as players. They could follow up a lot of the things we have started. So of course it’s 

“John Collins has references on a level that not a lot of people in Scotland have had for many years. He’s been in a club environment that’s been in the semi-finals of the Champions League with Monaco.

“He knows what the foreign countries are doing with the best clubs around. He has been unbelievably important for me and has so much to offer. He is different from a lot of people in Scotland – he dares to speak and say what he means.

“That’s so important to have people like that. He knows what he’s talking about and it’s important he’s listened to. He has a voice that can develop Scottish football. He could be a manager again, too – he has been there before. John Kennedy is a great prospect, in my opinion, to become a very good manager. He is very determined and wants to learn. He is hard-working and intelligent, socially and football wise. This is just the start for him.

“He could be the Celtic manager in the future one day. It’s too early for him now – he needs to get out and get some experience – but he’s respected within the whole club. The players like him and you can see he has leadership qualities. I have been lucky with my two assistants while I have been here. It’s been great to work with them as I have learned a lot. Hopefully, they have got some small things from me as well.”

A raft of former Celtic players – including David Moyes, Paul Lambert, Neil Lennon, Roy Keane, Henrik Larsson, Alan Stubbs and Malky Mackay – are among the bookmakers’ favourites to become the club’s next manager. Deila believes that connection to Celtic is an advantage for any candidate and feels he may have been hampered by his own status as a complete newcomer to the club two years ago.

“If the next manager has a Celtic background then that’s not a negative thing,” he said. “It’s not the most important thing but it’s a good thing. It’s good to understand what Scottish football is all about and understand what the club is all about.

“At the same time, if you are a bad manager then it’s not worth anything – you need to have the package first. But if you have a Celtic background then that can only be a positive thing to bring into the club. When you are a Celtic person it’s easier to get accepted very quickly. You know the environment much better.

“I think it could have made a difference to me. It’s always difficult for a manager to go abroad. There aren’t many who have done it and really succeeded. It’s tough because of the culture and language changes.

“It takes time to get into things. So it was challenging for me, although I have learned a lot. A lot of my 
ideas are in the club now and will stay here for a long, 
long time.”