Football: Norse saga with a moral for Britain

Phil Gordon advises caution over the Kinnear Celtic connection
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JOE KINNEAR may have cultivated his Irish brogue in Watford, but even he knows Blarney when he sees it. The linking of his name with Celtic would appear to be yet another piece of managerial kiss-and-tell.

If the Wimbledon manager is being eyed up by the deposed Scottish champions, then the romance has been so secret that few of the Glasgow media's Deep Throats are even aware of it. Despite Kinnear's implication this week that Celtic was his next destination, sources inside Parkhead denied any knowledge of the 52-year-old's arrival.

Of course, it would not be the first time that Celtic have found their name hitched to someone who ultimately beds down elsewhere. The club which took 90 years to get through its first four managers now changes partners more times than its No 1 fan, Rod Stewart. The rock star was in town last week to watch Celtic lose the Scottish Cup final, but the girls who have lined up to take his arm are at least a bit more honest about their desire for self-promotion than some of Celtic's alleged suitors. Being linked with Celtic has never harmed a manager's chances elsewhere.

Should Jozef Venglos go, and that seems to be when rather than if, Celtic will be seeking their third team boss in successive seasons. That has spawned a nice industry in summer speculation, but the newspapers are not the only ones to do well out of it. Agents and coaches have done too. Bobby Robson, Johan Cruyff, Craig Brown, Angel Iordanescu, Gerard Houllier, Egil Olsen, Ruud Gullit, Artur Jorge, Nevio Scala, Arrigo Sacchi, Martin O'Neill and Ruud Krol. That list is not exhausted, but the memory is. Most of the men in question either conveniently took an offer elsewhere, or signed a new contract with their existing employer.

Of course, had Egil Olsen, the man who seems certain to inherit Kinnear's seat at Selhurst Park, not played Celtic like a harp last summer then neither the club nor Kinnear might be in the position of limbo they now occupy. Celtic's then general manager, Jock Brown, travelled secretly to France during the World Cup finals to meet Norway's coach, until eventually being rebuffed.

Celtic subsequently turned to Houllier, who was then attached to the French FA. Houllier's decision to opt for Liverpool instead, shocked Parkhead, but not Anfield, which knew the Frenchman was in the bag - it was simply a matter of "thrashing out the personal details". The South African coach, Philippe Troussier (now coach to Japan), also leaked to the French press during the World Cup that he too was going to Glasgow for talks.

Left in the lurch to find a replacement for Wim Jansen, who quit rather than being sacked because of his relationship with Brown and the chair- man Fergus McCann, Celtic were forced to pull a coach quickly off the shelf, and that man was the semi-retired Venglos.

That was much the way Jansen himself came to Parkhead in 1997, when Celtic hung on until the last minute trying to tempt Bobby Robson away from Barcelona - where he remained with his two-year contract honoured even though Louis van Gaal took charge of the team. Yet, anyone who doubted Celtic's dubious status only had to witness another coach who turned up in Glasgow that month, the former Juventus boss Gigi Maifredi, who engineered an interview via an agent then spoke to journalists and posed for pictures while being put up at the Hilton Hotel before he had even been to Parkhead.

It seems certain that Kenny Dalglish will return to Celtic on 1 July to take the technical director's job. But Dalglish, it seems, will eschew team matters to focus on the bigger picture. Yet whether Kinnear, a friend of Dermot Desmond, the Irish millionaire on Celtic's plc board, really needs the increased blood pressure Parkhead will bring, is debatable.

Venglos, 63, complained earlier this season that the job had affected his health, while another previous incumbent, Liam Brady, aged dreadfully at Celtic as did his predecessor, Billy McNeill, who needed a bypass last year.