Stiliyan Petrov, the former Celtic midfielder, believes that Henrik Larsson is the ideal replacement for Ronny Deila this summer at Celtic Park.

Petrov was a team-mate of Larsson’s during the Martin O’Neill era and believes that the managerial experience the Swede has gained in the last five years has set him up for a crack at the Celtic job.

Larsson is currently contracted to Helsingborgs until 2017 and was tight-lipped yesterday afternoon when he was quizzed about throwing his hat into the ring for the soon-to-be vacant post. However, Petrov believes that Larsson’s character and iconic status at the club would ensure an immediate respect within the Celtic dressing room.

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While supporters of a certain vintage may still shudder at the memory of another legendary figure who returned to the managerial seat as part of a fabled “dream team” – it was the Kenny Dalglish and John Barnes team that took Petrov to Celtic in 1999 – the Bulgarian would have no qualms about installing Larsson to the post.

The striker is revered among the Celtic support after a seven-year spell at the club in which he scored 242 goals in 315 appearances and Petrov is insistent that his status ought to earn him serious consideration for the post.

“I hope Henrik is the man,” said Petrov. “I would love to see him in charge of Celtic. Is he going to be offered it? Is he going to take it? I really hope so.


I would love to see him get the job and I think everyone would feel that way too.

“It would be a good challenge for Henrik and an honour for him too. Do I think he is ready for the Celtic job this time around? Of course I do. And you never know if you are ready for something until you try it – but I definitely feel it’s time for Henrik Larsson.

“I’ve not spoken to him about it. As someone who is a former Celtic player, and still a Celtic supporter, I hope they turn to Henrik – and that he will say yes.

“I think the fans would love having someone like Henrik, with all of his experience at Celtic and across big games in European football. He’s got great contacts and he’s got a winning mentality. The stadium has been empty and he would definitely fill it up again. There would be no empty Celtic Parks with Henrik Larsson back there, that’s for sure.”

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David Moyes, Brendan Rodgers, Roy Keane, Malky Mackay, Neil Lennon and Michael O’Neill are all early contenders for the post, but whoever it is who is tasked with taking over, time will be of the essence.

Celtic’s first UEFA Champions League qualifier takes place on either the 12th or 13th July and with Deila remaining in his post until the end of the season, the clock will be ticking from the first snap of a photographer’s camera.

A rebuilding process will begin immediately but Petrov has called upon whoever is given the task of taking Celtic into the elite environment of the UEFA Champions League to be given funds to build a stronger squad.

“It’s massive to have the Champions League qualifiers as your first game. And this season is especially big because Celtic have missed out on reaching the group stages in the last two seasons.


“If I remember correctly, Peter Lawwell says Celtic need to be in the Champions League at least once every three years. So they need to make sure they get there next season – and to do that they need to make sure they get the right man.

“Celtic will always be an attractive job,” he said. “But if you want success then you need to spend. You need to spend more than anyone else if you want to bring quality, if you want to be in the Champions League, if you want to compete and dominate then you need good players.

“People talk about buying cheaper players and producing them, but how many cases are there of that? You need to build a strong team and fans want to see goals. They want goals, domination but they are not seeing that just now.”

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And the Bulgarian has insisted that the Parkhead club will need to outspend a Rangers side who will seek to strengthen this summer.

“Maybe overspend them and bring more quality,” he said. “Rangers, with the promotion and what happened last Sunday, they will think that they can go and have a go and win the league because you can’t see the difference between the two teams.

“It’s a big year, with the Champions League qualifiers and then Rangers are back in the Premiership next season. The new manager should get as much time as possible to prepare.”