Celtic have had many great managers over the years. From the legendary Willie Maley, to the immortal Jock Stein, Tommy Burns, Martin O’Neill, Billy McNeill, Wim Jansen and Brendan Rodgers, they have all contributed to Celtic’s great and illustrious history.
And I haven’t even mentioned the now much maligned, Neil Lennon and, of course, Gordon Strachan who got us to the last 16 of the Champions League. Twice. When downsizing.
All brilliant Celtic managers in their own rite.
But when you think of John Barnes, your immediate thought goes to Inverness Caley, right?
Barnes was speaking to The Guardian whilst promoting his book, The Uncomfortable Truth about Racism, when he touched on his ill fated time at the Hoops, “I prefer to talk about it generally because my time at Celtic had nothing to do with race. It had to do with the fact that the English don’t know much about Scottish football.”
“I was a first-time manager and the perception, which is media indoctrination, is that my time was a disaster. On a 65% win rate?
“After Jock Stein I had the largest percentage of wins than any other first-time manager at Celtic … in the history of Celtic managers, as far as win percentages goes, I’m the fourth or fifth best manager.
“But I had problems from the beginning and knew it wouldn’t last.”
Now, Barnes is correct. His win percentage was the best after Jock Stein at that time, but Celtic fans of a certain vintage will remember the utter dross we had to put up with Lou Macari, Liam Brady and Jo Venglos.
Barnes also has a selective memory of course, because after that start to the season he had overseen five losses in total to Dundee United, Motherwell (x2) and Rangers.
And prior to his ill fated Inverness Caley cup exit at Celtic Park, Barnes also drew with Rangers at home, Kilmarnock away and lost to Hearts at home. 3-2. After being 2-0 up.
So it wasn’t just the Inverness defeat that he was sacked for, that was the straw that broke the camels back.
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