Football: Celtic send for Dalglish and Barnes

KENNY DALGLISH returned to Celtic yesterday after an absence of 22 years from the place he calls home, took an appreciative nod at Parkhead's physical transformation and smiled: "It's changed a lot since the last time I was here. They must have spent my transfer [money] well."

Jokes and Dalglish: there could have been no greater indication that change was firmly on the agenda. The bane of England's media had dropped off his taciturn baggage at the border before making his entrance with the other half of Celtic's new double act, John Barnes.

The former England international takes over from Jozef Venglos to become Celtic's fifth team coach in as many years. But, if it was all a bit new for Barnes, Dalglish's return to his native city untapped a hidden humour which, if not exactly Billy Connolly, was far from the Victor Meldrew image with which he has been previously identified.

"We'll need to order a large tracksuit," Dalglish gestured at Barnes, confirming that his one-time Anfield protege would be launching his new career when he takes Celtic for pre-season training on 1 July.

Dalglish will be the director of football and, if the Celtic supporters are ambivalent about the 35-year-old Barnes facing such a daunting job as his baptism in coaching, then the return of their old favourite may sooth their fears.

More than a thousand fans stood outside Celtic Park to acclaim Dalglish, now 48, who has remained an idol with supporters despite his move to Liverpool in 1977. A glimpse of King Kenny was enough to assure most of those fans that the club is now back on the right track.

A lot, however, has changed since Dalglish left for pounds 400,000, not least transfer fees themselves. Then Jock Stein was not just a manager, but he ran Celtic from top to bottom. These days, the plc board - of which Celtic are one of the most profitable - and City investors can pull rank on the manager, as Dalglish experienced at Newcastle United last August.

Celtic's board are fully aware that just one League title in 11 years is not enough to sustain a club which has grown from near bankruptcy in 1994 to an operation with a pounds 30m turnover. The sell-out 60,000 crowds for games against St Johnstone will disappear soon unless Dalglish and Barnes halt Rangers' dominance which their coach, Dick Advocaat, reaffirmed with three trophies last season. In contrast, the kindly but ill-equipped Venglos has failed to build on Wim Jansen's success of 1998.

"We are confident that the new structure will add value to the shareholders," Frank O'Callaghan, the chairman of Celtic plc, said pointedly, "as well as produce success for the club and return Celtic to prominence in Europe."

The latter is something Dalglish knows all about, having helped Liverpool to three European Cup triumphs as a player. But domestic matters require more urgent attention and, if Dalglish's hand is not on the first-team tiller, Celtic believe he can still provide the kind of help that was never available to Liam Brady, whose spell as manager between 1991 and 1993 highlighted the difficulty in bridging the gap between being a high- profile player and a successful manager.

"It would be stupid of me not to use Kenny's experience and knowledge," said Barnes, whose release by Charlton last month brought down the curtain on a playing career best remembered for his days in Dalglish's championship- winning Liverpool sides of 1988 and 1990.

"This is John's first stab as coach," Dalglish said, "but I got my first opportunity in a similar way at Anfield [in 1986] when Bob Paisley put me in charge and I had him to turn to. I believe John is going to be a tremendous success as a coach. When I gave him certain responsibilities at Newcastle, the players spoke highly of how he put his ideas across."

Dalglish headed off the notion that Celtic have taken a sizable risk by handing the reins to Barnes. "Anyone coming in is a gamble. We have made the decision we believe to be right," Dalglish said.

Celtic's appointment of Venglos just 11 months ago has not delivered the envisaged results, and Dalglish feels inexperience should not be held up as a barrier to Barnes. Venglos now becomes a consultant.

Barnes, who has signed a three-year contract, said: "Football is a simple game and I won't judge players by my standards or Kenny's standards."

For Dalglish, whose long-term aim is to create a youth academy at Celtic, the first task is sorting out the present. "I will look after the future development of the club," said the man who six months ago tried to buy out the majority shareholder, Fergus McCann. "Rangers have got trophies because they deserve them, and it's up to us to get back to that level. Everyone wants the same thing, whether it's the plc board, supporters or the manager."

Brown's mission; Fowler's pledge, page 27

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Defendant Personal Injury 2+PQE

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - NICHE DEFENDANT FIRM - Defendant Pe...

Java Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: JAVA DEVELO...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Developer

£475 - £550 per day: Progressive Recruitment: MDAX / Dynamics AX / Microsoft D...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on