If you had told me even twelve months ago that I would be writing an article about John Kennedy possibly leaving this club, and that I would be writing it with regret and in this tone, I would have flatly refused to believe it.
This time last year I wanted him gone.
It seemed like it was just a matter of time until Ange sussed this guy out and got rid.
Well, it turns out that Ange was a far better judge of Kennedy – and people inside Celtic were a far better judge of Kennedy – than many of us, amongst his critics, realised. Because this guy has very clearly been a vital cog in the manager’s big wheel. His departure, if it comes, would be a source of regret for everyone in the Celtic operation.
And I never thought I would say that.
Where I’ve been consistent is in saying that in my view John Kennedy will have to leave Celtic if he harbours grand ambitions of being a manager one day.
It will not happen for him here unless or until he has been elsewhere and proved that he can do the job.
Celtic has shown tremendous loyalty to Kennedy, but we must acknowledge that Kennedy has shown immense loyalty to Celtic.
He has had chances to go off and become a coach and even a manager elsewhere before now; if the offer from abroad comes it will only be one of many offers that this man has had over the years.
And so far he has turned them all down, to stay at the club where he played and which has repaid his service with a place at the heart of our operation.
So now I’m genuinely torn, because whereas once I’d have been glad to see him go I will now feel a pang of regret and even concern that Ange’s right hand is no longer with him.
But Ange’s working methods are such that I suspect he’ll hardly miss a step … for all that, breaking up a winning team is never the smart thing to do if you can help it.
For all that, I feel that if the approach comes that Celtic must not stand in the man’s way. He has given everything to this club over the years and we owe him the chance to chart his own course.
He has repaid every faith in him that we had, and this might well be his time to shine on a stage of his own.
If it is, every one of us should will him well.