Exclusive – Celtic are considering offering Stoke City boss Michael O’Neill the vacant manager’s role at Parkhead – for the second time in his managerial career.
The 51-year-old was offered the Celtic job by Dermot Desmond back in 2016, prior to Brendan Rodgers taking charge, but he turned the opportunity down due to his commitments with the Northern Ireland national team.
Despite O’Neill rejecting the post five years ago, Desmond remains a huge fan of the manager and his work, and 90min understands that he is once again under major consideration to be offered the role as Celtic boss.
Nick Hammond, the club’s head of football operations, is also a huge fan of the ex-Northern Ireland boss, having tried to recruit him while working for West Bromwich Albion.
If the Hoops were impressed by O’Neill’s exploits in 2016, then his record as Stoke boss will surely have blown them away. He replaced Nathan Jones in November 2019, with the Potters rooted to the bottom of the Championship table, and seemingly sliding towards an unthinkable relegation to League One.
The Stoke boss transformed his side’s fortunes however, not only carrying them away from the relegation zone, but finishing the season in a comfortable 15th position. He has continued the club’s steady rise this campaign, cementing the Potters in the top half of the table, despite taking control of a bloated and problematic squad.
And that impressive turnaround has caught the eye of Celtic’s hierarchy, who’ve never completely lost interest in the Northern Irish coach. In fact, a source close to the club has told 90min that, “Michael O’Neill has a lot of fans at Parkhead, the hierarchy liked him before, and they still do.”
It would certainly be a tough proposal for the Stoke boss to turn down for a second time, especially as Celtic are growing in confidence that his passionate and inspirational personality is the perfect fit to take over from the departed Neil Lennon.