CELTIC head coach Wim Jansen ended months of speculation yesterday when he confirmed he was quitting just one year into his three-year contract, and 48 hours after steering the club to its first league championship in a decade.

The Dutchman's resignation, although not unexpected, was greeted with dismay by the Parkhead club's massive support and sparked protests outside Celtic Park.

Many fans, still bleary-eyed after weekend celebrations, blamed managing director Fergus McCann and general manager Jock Brown and called for them to resign.

A banner with the message ''Brown and McCann must go now'' was unfurled outside the stadium before chants of ''There's only one Wim Jansen'' were directed at the duo inside.

The club also faced rumblings of a player revolt last night as the news of Jansen's departure rocked the first team squad, who are in Portugal for a friendly game against Sporting Club tonight.

One of Jansen's major signings, Paul Lambert, admitted: ''I have to think seriously about my future now that Wim is leaving. This is a major blow. We must be the only club in the world where a coach wins two tournaments out of three and then is allowed to go. Wim is right up there with the best.''

Lambert was expressing the views of most of the first team squad. All were stunned that Jansen has been allowed to go.

Among the men being mentioned last night as possible successors to Jansen were his assistant, Murdo MacLeod; Leicester City manager Martin O'Neill; Scotland boss Craig Brown; and Coventry City manager Gordon Strachan.

Jansen said yesterday that McCann's reluctance to spend heavily on new players and a breakdown in communication with Brown prompted him to exercise a get-out clause in his contract.

He later answered criticisms from the club in Portugal. He said disparagingly: ''If they (Fergus McCann and Jock Brown) were such big men why did they not sack me before now?'' He added: ''It's true I did not answer a memo about proposed spending on players because I simply did not know how much money there was to spend. I did not know whether it was #1m or #20m, therefore I could not give any opinion.''

McCann, who brought in Jan-sen to replace Tommy Burns last summer, insisted no individual was bigger than the club and said he had no doubt Celtic would continue to grow ''stronger and stronger''. He added: ''The decision Wim has taken is one the board also believes is best for the club. On behalf of everyone at Celtic, I would like to thank Wim for his time at the club and wish him all the best for the future.''

Peter Rafferty, chairman of the Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters Clubs, said supporters were disappointed and disillusioned.

''It seems Wim was basically looking for assurances about what he would be allowed in terms of bringing in quality players for next year,'' adding that ''unfortunately there seems to be a confrontational management at Celtic that has reared its ugly head again''.

Former Celtic director and Glasgow businessman Brian Dempsey, who organised the visit of Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern to Celtic Park on Saturday when the club refused the Taoiseach permission to meet the players, said he was ''astonished'' a man who had achieved such success and commanded great respect with the players was allowed to go.

''I felt that Wim Jansen brought a dignity and professionalism to the job but I think it is quite clear that he does not enjoy a good working relationship with Celtic. It is important that you have a good working relationship between the general manager and the coach. If you don't, it is a recipe for disaster.''

At the Springfield Vaults pub in London Road, Frank Mulligan, from Parkhead, said: ''I'm very sorry to see Wim Jansen go because he's a brilliant coach who has just won us the league.

''I think the root of the problem is Jock Brown. He thinks he's more important than the coach but Wim Jansen has done more for Celtic in one season than Jock Brown ever will.''

Fred Gallagher, from Dalmarnock, said: ''It's definitely the wee man in the bunnet's fault (McCann). If he had given Jansen more money to buy more top players, we would have won the treble and Jansen would have stayed.''

Brian Mitchell, from Bridgeton, was less perturbed, and said: ''We've just won the league so let's carry on with the celebrations. I don't think this is the end of the world. When Wim Jansen came to Celtic no-one knew much about him.''

Tony Murray, from Clydebank, claimed the problems which led to Jansen's resignation remained at Celtic Park and called on McCann to sell his shares in Celtic now, rather than in March next year as planned.

He said: ''Obviously McCann and Brown don't have the same ambition to succeed as Jansen has. They didn't sanction the signing of players that Jansen wanted and the club basically won the league by the skin of their teeth without having to shelve out a lot of money. If Fergus McCann was half as ambitious as Wim Jansen we would be the best team in the world.''

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