Is it 1999?

*Checks Calendar* Phew, it’s not!

However, if you woke up this morning and got your daily dose of Scottish fitba’ news you will have seen the Gerrard to Ibrox rumours and it took me back to 1999 when a struggling Glasgow club who had only won ONE League title in 11 years called for a Liverpool Legend to give him his first managerial role.

With the departure of Dr Joseph Venglos who failed to live up to his predecessor Wim Jansen – Kenny Dalglish was brought back to Celtic and this time he was bringing one of his mates.

Dalglish got the not to be Director of Football at Celtic Park as the club looked to recapture the magic of the 97/98 season, and for Dalglish, it was a freshly retired Barnes who fit the bill.

Speaking at the time, Kenny was full of optimism about the appointment – these quotes taken from the Telegraph during the managers unveiling.

This is John’s first stab as coach,” Dalglish said, “but I got my first opportunity in a similar way at Anfield [in 1986] when Bob Paisley put me in charge and I had him to turn to. I believe John is going to be a tremendous success as a coach. When I gave him certain responsibilities at Newcastle, the players spoke highly of how he put his ideas across.”

Dalglish rejected the notion that Barnes was a risk and insisted anyone coming in would be a risk  “Anyone coming in is a gamble. We have made the decision we believe to be right,” Dalglish said.

Barnes, who had signed a three-year contract, said: “Football is a simple game and I won’t judge players by my standards or Kenny’s standards.”

Dalglish seemed to be in it for the long haul and had big plans.

“I will look after the future development of the club,”

“Rangers have got trophies because they deserve them, and it’s up to us to get back to that level. Everyone wants the same thing, whether it’s the plc board, supporters or the manager.”

For those who have blocked this time in Celtic’s history out of your head, here’s a short recap from The Celtic wiki.

In retrospect, Barnes was simply in over his head and a managerial role came to encompass far more required than the skill-set he had at the time, not that he seemed to realise or appreciate this.

His ‘mentor’ has to take the flak for not assisting more but the buck stops with Barnes, and his arrogance and his early streak of hubris was to be Barnes’ downfall in his short reign far sooner than even the most sceptical commentator on the appointment could have predicted. From early on, insiders were already complaining of his aloofness.

When you have players of the calibre of Lubo, Lambert, Viduka, Berkovic, Petrov (admittedly not yet proven) and Larsson (until his injury) in your side, you should hardly fail so badly. Yet he did.

The moral of the story, go get a real manager.


  1. If Larsson had not picked up the horrific injury he sustained so early into John Barnes’ tenure, the perception of Barnes as a manager could have been very different indeed: the influence of Larsson was proven over the following years and until that point, the results had been excellent. I think people who dismiss this as a dreadful appointment etc., need to consider the circumstances before so readily pointing the finger. Can anyone say with any certainty that Martin O’Neill would have been such a success had Larsson been unavailable for such a lengthy period? Of course not.

    • I agree with what you say there Andy. I remember some of the football in those early days of Barnes as being very entertaining. The loss of Larsson would have hindered any manager, even Martin O’Neill as you stated. The one thing I can say categorically though is O’Neill wouldn’t have brought in a washed-up Ian Wright as his replacement or pissed away £10-12m on an Israeli diva and a Brazilian fraudster.

  2. Barnes gave an interview in a black cultures tv show where he claimed he sacked because he was black. He said a white manager should have been given longer.
    I lost any remaining respect for him at that point!

    • That was highly risible of him and a cowardly excuse Del. Nothing to do with blowing fortunes on duds, losing the dressing room completely, having as much respect from his players as Theresa May from EU delegates in Brexit negotiations and having led Celtic to the single most embarrassing defeat in their history (up to that point).

      Wonder what Tony Mowbray’s excuse was? “Is it because I is white”?

  3. John Barnes yep John effin Barnes…..I remember him coming to Celtic and the only thing i thought at the time was WTF.He wasnt a manager then and Still isnt.Sevco must be feeling the Fear,By Now.Sundays Almost Upon Us.Mon Bhoys Play them Off the Park.Humiliation Derby..HH HWG10IAR

  4. Dalglish? The guy with press conferences in Bairds? have got trophies because they deserve them,aye right,Strip the Titles!

  5. I think his point there, Rob, was forget about all that and concentrate on beating them now. He was Director of Football at Celtic, so probably couldn’t say much else. That said, Martin O’Neill produced a brilliant one liner about the prejudice against Celtic with the most thinly veiled dig ever: “We don’t have to be better than them, we have tonne MUCH better”.
    Anyway, here’s to Sunday and thrashing the b@&£$€$s


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