Can John Collins Be A Great Number Two At Celtic?


John Collins has been made Ronny Deila’s second in command at Celtic.

It’s a move that surprised me at first and I’m still unsure how it will go, but the more I think about it the more it actually starts to make sense.

Collins was a Celtic hero during his six years at the club as a player before he departed for Monaco in one of the first Bosman transfers in the mid nineties. The ‘Hoops’ fans still remember Collins with a fondness that makes sure he’ll be welcomed back into the Celtic family with open arms. His presence at training and beside the new Norwegian head coach in the dugout gives the club’s faithful support a sign that Celtic’s traditions will carry on. Celtic fans love the idea of staff being Celtic minded and having a great association with the club.

John will also teach these traditions to Deila and help the new gaffer with his transition to such a big club. The appointment will also offer the new management team more time, if needed, to get things the way they want them as the trust will be stronger by the simple fact that Collins is there as a righthand man.

During the nineties Collins was one of my favourite players for Scotland and that says a lot when I was never a fan of Celtic. He was a very smart footballer. Tidy on the ball with a cultured left foot. Leaving for Monaco in 1996 was also very astute, it showed he was eager to try new challenges and broaden his horizons. Too many of his Scottish contemporaries were happy at the Old Firm or the English Premier League being their main career goals. But Collins and Paul Lambert were different beasts and would go to Europe and they became better players for it, especially in the mind. I can’t praise footballers enough when they clearly engage their brains when playing the game, Collins was arguably Scotland’s most prolific thinker of the game.

His time in charge of Hibs has been laughed at by many. A lot of that was down to a training session where he shed his top and flexed his muscles declaring, to his charges, this is the body needed to be a peak footballer. That story has been called fact by some and a myth by others. The main reason it’s believed is because Collins has always had that aura of being extremely confident in everything, so much so that many would rather call it cocky arrogance instead of confidence. But you need a certain amount of confidence if you’re going to be successful as a manager/coach.

A lot has been made of the tension between John Collins and his young side at Easter Road with reports of a team meeting being held at Chairman Rod Petrie’s house, without the managers knowledge. Players such as Scott Brown, Kevin Thomson and Simon Brown were all wary of their managers methods and made that known.

But history doesn’t lie and during his spell as boss at Hibs, they played some very attractive football and won a League Cup. He also got the best out of Brown, Thomson and Steven Whittaker in Edinburgh and would sell them on, raking in over £8m in the process. He would also help develop and improve Steven Fletcher as a young striker.

The Brown/Collins story will be an intriguing one at Parkhead. Has a enough water passed under the bridge? Both parties seem professional enough to say openly that they look forward to working with each other again and there was never any friction between the two. But Ronny Deila’s admission that he phoned club captain Scott Brown to tell him of Collins’ appointment and check there wasn’t any ill-feelings between the two, shows an issue must have occurred at some point. But as I said Brown vastly improved under Collins’ guidance and some might say that Brown may not be a Celtic player now if it wasn’t for that year he had with Collins at Easter Road. Also to be fair to the forty-six year old coach, he has always been complimentary of Brown, especially on his qualities as a footballer.

Collins also had a spell in charge at Belgian side Charleroi, where he helped save them from relegation. This move again proved that Collins wasn’t scared to seek a new adventure elsewhere and prove himself in a new land. That once again shows the self confidence the man has in himself and to be fair to him, he proved he was right. His win percent ratio in the Belgium top flight was a healthy 38%, not bad at all if you consider their predicament at the time.

But his term at Hibs, his spell in Belgium and his role as director of football at Livingston all ended with sour notes. The Collins ego was again to blame as he fought for more control and higher budgets. This is what may concern the Celtic board and fans the most. Collins is very headstrong and heavily believes in his footballing philosophies. Can he really step back into a number two role and let Deila have the final word?

If Collins has much in-put on the training sessions at Lennoxtown then the Celtic stars should prepare for some gruelling work ahead. But the stringent, regimental style works in improving the fitness of the players and that could be a huge bonus in the European ties.

He is also very articulate and that along with his tactically knowledge will be of great service for Ronny Deila as will John’s understanding of the domestic game in Scotland. At first it might seem as if John Collins is the manager and Deila is his number two as the Norwegian learns as much as he can from his number two about certain teams, rival coaches and players in the Scottish Premiership. Again Collins has to be careful and step back a bit, so Deila can be seen as the true leader.

Season 2014-2015 looks set to be a very exciting one for Celtic. Ronny Deila looks set to bring in a new air to the club and freshen things up a bit. He will need a strong number two and Collins can certainly be that man. But John Collins will also have to prove that he doesn’t need or want total control to be effective.

Can he last as a reliable and successful number two? Only time will tell. We will certainly know within a year. The only person capable of spoiling for John Collins at Celtic, is John Collins himself. Let’s hope he can spot that too!


3 Responses to “Can John Collins Be A Great Number Two At Celtic?”

  1. Every Celtic supporter will be looking forward to the great European nights. Hail hail the Celtic.

  2. I enjoyed that. Very well balanced. I’ll be keeping any eye out for your future articles. Keep them coming 🙂

  3. […] arrogant ways be hampering team morale? Another one for the mibees aye, mibees naw column. When I wrote about the Collins appointment I said it could go either way and that he needed to keep his ego in check if it was going to work […]

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