A month ago, when Celtic effectively went out of Europe to Sparta Prague, at a time when it was still early in this crisis and when there was a genuine chance to change things, our board of directors had a decision to make.
Most of us spent the following day waiting on the announcement that Lennon had been relieved of his duties. But it never came.
The question many were asking was what the obvious change was to be.
To many it wasn’t apparent that there was one, but in fact it was staring us in the face the whole time. Had Celtic got rid of Neil Lennon at that moment there was a very good candidate who could have stepped in and taken the reigns until the end of the season.
In spite of denials to the contrary, I believe he would have done it.
Clarke knows how to organise a team in the SPL.
He knows how to work with a disparate group of players.
Although some don’t believe he would manage in Glasgow, I think the opportunity to take a shot with Celtic would have been more than he could resist.
I don’t believe there’s a chance in Hell that he would have turned us down.
Steve Clarke would have jumped at it.
I believe had we acted on time, Clarke would have secured us ten in a row.
It might well be too late for such a course correction now.
The only other question is would he have left the Scotland job after getting them to a major finals? Well, the answer to that is surely obvious as well; if he was being brought in on an interim basis only he wouldn’t have had to make that decision.
What’s more, with a safe pair of hands on the wheel the club could have waited before starting the hunt for a permanent appointment. Give Clarke a free ride until January, just as they are doing with Lennon, and evaluate the prospects of him getting the job on a longer basis.
With that kind of prospect open to him, I think he’d definitely have don’t it.
Clarke’s skill is in organising a team well, which is precisely what we need at the moment.
With the Celtic squad at his disposal I have no doubt we’d see the very best of him, and we’d find out whether or not he’s a top drawer coach or just a very good one.
Clarke’s CV is perfect for a move like this.
He has put in his time, learning his trade under top drawer individuals. He would have been an outstanding stop gap, and a far better option than the collection of names with “Celtic connections” who all, one way or another, would have been divisive or asked more questions than were answered.
But I don’t think anyone would have complained about Clarke.
When we look back this will be our great missed opportunity.
I cannot believe that we have left things this long when such an obvious option was right on our door.