Celtic’s Under 18 Changes Come Into Sharper Focus … And This May Signify Great Things To Come.

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Well, well, well … I take it back. Some of it. Not all of it.

Last week, this blog caused a fair bit of controversy – although I honestly don’t know why – when it published a scathing denunciation of the idea that Celtic might be about to appoint Jonny Hayes as our Under 18 manager. I thought a decision along those lines would have been appalling. It turns out today that Hayes will be returning – no surprise there – but in a much lesser role; he’ll be coming in as the assistant. The top spot is going to someone else.

On 8 May, this blog published an article entitled “The Latest Alleged Candidate For Celtic’s Under 18 Post Would Be Much More Like It.” It was about a name who had entered the frame that afternoon, the Southampton youth boss Adam Asghar. Today’s reports suggest that he has in fact landed the role and will be bringing in Hayes as his number two.

Needless to say, this is superb if true.

I criticised the idea to appoint Hayes when it was first mooted and wasn’t changing my mind last week. I praised Asghar’s name when it was first mentioned, and I am delighted by the suggestion that he will get the gig.

His pedigree is perfect.

He has all the experience one could want from somebody in the role.

When this board gets it wrong – or looks like getting it wrong – then it’s the role of fan media to ask the kind of questions I asked last week.

When it gets it right, all we have to do is give the club the credit that it is due, and they will be due immense credit if they have secured a candidate of this quality to fill what I have always maintained is a critically important role.

It is the answer to a question a lot of the people who criticised last week’s article on Hayes didn’t seem to want to ask; why spend big money on infrastructure just to put an amateur in charge of it? We’re embarking on a multi-million-pound project to renovate Barrowfield for the use of the Under 18 team, the B side and the women’s team … and for what? To put one of the most important jobs in the hands of a novice? It made no sense whatsoever.

This, on the other hand, makes perfect sense.

Asghar’s pedigree is almost perfect. He’s coached at Under 21 level at a very good English club, he’s coached at Under 18 level at another; his Sunderland side finished second in the Under 18 Premier League a couple of years back, beaten only by Manchester City, and he’s even coached at the senior level up here in Scotland at Dundee Utd.

In short, his CV is absolutely outstanding.

He is the perfect sort of person to be heading up the Under 18 set-up at Celtic, and he is the perfect person for someone like Hayes to improve under and to learn under.

That Hayes allegedly turned down the Under 18 manager’s role at Aberdeen for what now looks like a job as someone else’s assistant is interesting as well; it shows a commitment to Celtic which is impressive and noteworthy. That would not have been a standout element had he come to our club in the same role – it’s a much bigger job, by far, than the one at Aberdeen – but in the context of the present situation it should be applauded to the max.

This club makes a lot of mistakes. Its hiring practices have long been suspect and eccentric. The club’s previous hiring history does not inspire confidence; indeed, it makes you fear the worst, always, and this is a natural consequence of having people on the board who the fan-base does not trust with the big decisions. That’s why when Hayes announced his departure from Aberdeen last week that there was an almost universal belief that he was heading for Celtic as our Under 18 boss … some people evidently thought that was a good idea. Others didn’t.

But it seemed so much like the sort of appointment we would make, to opt for a favourite son rather than go out and bring in the best that we could get. Because this is what the club does time and time again, it takes this path, it fills its ranks with folk whose primary qualifications appear to be who they know or some prior connection with the club.

There are people who feel about the summer the way I felt last week when Hayes name emerged as the likely candidate to become the Under 18 boss. They are suspicious of any talk that the manager will be in charge of the rebuild, and they worry about what it will mean if those above him limit his power to make the big decisions … they don’t believe we will spend money strategically or that we’ll go after the best players we can. They see projects in our future.

Celtic has allowed negative perceptions like these to take root. It’s just a fact. The hiring of Mark Lawwell and the return of Peter Lawwell to a senior position, they set us back in ways that have nothing to do with their respective job performances.

Those appointments resulted in an erosion of trust.

Those appointments suggested that cronyism and nepotism were now deeply embedded in the culture of the club. When Mark Lawwell was given the authority to do the rebuild on his own terms, and to Hell with what the manager’s needs were, that resulted not only in a disastrous run of poor quality signings but further damage to the perception fans have about the way Celtic is run, and that has wider implications than just what happens on the pitch.

If someone like Asghar is brought in, that will be an appointment that prompts a re-evaluation.

It will not repair and rebuild everything that the last 18 months helped to damage but it will be a positive step towards a more ambitious and forward-facing club and if we follow that up with a successful summer transfer window and we continue to rebuild the football department in this manner then the club will deserve not only our plaudits but they’ll have earned back our trust … because all any of us has ever asked Celtic to do is put its best foot forward and be all it can be.

If the club is serious about doing that we ought to applaud every step along that path, because that way lies a Celtic that none of us has seen before, and it’s one that I don’t believe any potential rival is going to be able to catch.

If we pull this hiring off, then this is a very good start to our summer and not just because the candidate himself is excellent, but because of what it might mean for how we’re going about our business across the club as a whole.

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  • Roonsa says:

    Shame on you James lol

    You were a harbinger of doom when you should have been sewing the seeds of joy n happiness. This could be the first of many signs that Celtic are upping the ante.

    Better later than never I suppose haha. This is, indeed good news.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    That sounds a wee bitty better so it does now…

    This new guy has no emotional connection to Celtic but Johnny Hayes most certainly does –

    Could be the perfect blend and mix for Celtic FC…

    And hopefully it will be !

  • Brattbakk says:

    I hope this is true, Southampton have a long standing good record of youth development, hopefully this guys experience can push us on.

  • James Fullerton says:

    The thing is the scouts that watch these boys need to be a lot better than the previous ones and they are good enough as for Barrowfield it’s about time it was upgraded same at Celtic Park we’re James possibly you could give us a update we’re the refurbishments in and around Celtic park are taken place and possibly Barrowfield.

  • James Fullerton says:

    James hopefully Celtic will have better scouts watching these boys than the previous ones also what about giving us updates about the refurbishments going on inside Celtic park and possibly Barrowfield to.

  • Effarr says:

    I have a sow`s ear. I wonder if this
    wizard could make me a silk purse. It`s signings we should be reading about,
    not rejoicing about a new coach
    for under 18s who, if successful, would be looking to move as soon as the first
    bit of interest crops up for them.

    • James Forrest says:

      Yawn. What a pointless daft post that was.

      • Effarr says:

        Daft? But true. Not half as daft, though mad would be a better word, as someone
        trying to get a simple point across by using a couple of thousand words when a hundred would suffice. Still, I suppose it`s better than working for a living. ZZZZZZZZ

        • James Forrest says:

          If you’re unhappy here in Sangra-La you are free to use the exit door.

          If you don’t think I work for a living then you CAN and SHOULD fuck right off.

    • Henriksgoldenboot says:

      You’re missing the point completely mate!!

  • James McAllister says:

    It starts at grass roots and then that development will go to another level with the right guiding.??

  • James McAllister says:

    It starts at grass roots and then that development will go to another level with the right guiding.??

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