Football: Burns' future remains uncertain

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The Independent Online
Tommy Burns, the Celtic manager, is approaching the end of his third season in charge with a degree of trepidation and uncertainty.

Burns has refused to sign the contract he was offered on his arrival from Kilmarnock in 1994 and, as he watches Rangers edge closer to his club's proud record of nine successive League titles, he can only wonder if another deal will be offered to him.

On Saturday he watched in frustration as his side conceded two first- half goals at Dunfermline before coming back in the second half for a 2-2 draw. His disappointment was intensified with the news that Rangers had lost 2-1 to Kilmarnock at Ibrox and the chance to gain on their rivals was lost. Burns said: "I do wonder if my job is safe and I'm disappointed my position is not more clear cut at this stage of the season. Something has to come from Mr McCann [the club chairman] rather than me making the first move."

Burns this week also insisted he cannot be held responsible for the baggage he inherited from the previous regime. He said: "I can only be judged on what I have done in the time I have been here and I feel we have made big improvements. What I cannot be held responsible for is a situation where Rangers had won several titles before I arrived. We are now in a position where we are competing strongly for the league and that hasn't been the case for a number of years."

However, Fergus McCann, who headhunted Burns for the manager's position, refused to clarify the situation, saying: "A decision regarding the long term football strategy and objectives, based on a review of not just this season but three years' progress, will be made at the end of the season and not before.

"I see a number of people are trying to focus on Tommy Burns' position after defeats against Kilmarnock and Rangers, which I think is very unfortunate. I don't intend to get involved in the speculation regarding Tommy or anyone else's job at Celtic Park.

"Progress has been made on the park and that should not be clouded by the two recent defeats. The directors will not be railroaded into a knee- jerk reaction on someone's future based on two bad results and the resultant hype."

Despite receiving a vote of confidence which is dreaded by football managers, Burns has not had a comfortable time under McCann, with Pierre Van Hooijdonk already sold to Nottingham Forest and now Jorge Cadete indicating he also is unhappy.