Image: Wikimedia Commons / Werner100359
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Werner100359

Why Jesse Marsch won’t be the new Celtic Manager

Jesse Marsch isn’t going to become the next Celtic manager. It’s not because the Wisconsin-born tactician lacks the quality or ambition to take charge of the Glaswegian club. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – Marsch, to quote Elon Musk, is headed for the moon. Stonks.

Before we get into the whys and wherefores of Marsch’s career, I should explain why we’re having this discussion. 

Since Neil Lennon parted ways with Celtic at the start of the month, the Scottish Premiership club has been linked with a number of managers. Former AFC Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has been touted as a possible option, as has resurgent West Ham manager David Moyes.

Of course, it’s worth remembering that Celtic have just watched Rangers win their first league title in a decade.

Marsch, the current head coach of Austrian side FC Red Bull Salzburg, is just another name on that very longlist. The American, however, has spoken publicly about the Celtic vacancy, a decision that whipped much of the British press into a wild frenzy.

In an interview with BBC Sport on 17 March, Marsch said:  “I’ve heard [about the links]. It’s an honour for me. Three or four years ago, being linked with a club like Celtic would literally be an impossibility for me.

“And now that this is where I am, I always just try to look at it in terms of, ‘what would the project look like?’ 

“Would we have similar ideas in how to build it the right way, invest in the academy, invest in young players and create this development process that I’m talking about? And not just focus on winning.”

No less than 24 hours later, Marsch dialled back his comments, stressing that his work in Salzburg is “definitely not done.”

As US-based Bundesliga commentator (and Scotsman) Derrick Rae has pointed out, most people have completely skipped over what Marsch actually meant by his initial comments. 

In 2018, when he was still in charge of the New York Red Bulls, very few European football fans were aware of Marsch. At the time, Europe’s defining interaction with an American head coach was Bob Bradley’s ill-fated stint at Swansea City

Bradley, a successful coach in MLS, was chastised by the British media, mocked for the Americanisms that punctuated his public pronouncements. In plain terms, the world was not ready for someone like Jesse Marsch to manage Celtic three years ago. 

Celtic is not set-up in a way that is attractive to Marsch

In that sense, it clearly is an honour for Marsch to be linked with such a prestigious job. 

Unfortunately, as he hinted in his interview, Celtic is not set-up in a way that is attractive to Marsch.

The 47-year-old American has spent the vast majority of his coaching career as part of the Red Bull system, first in New York, then Leipzig, and now Salzburg. 

The statement that “I always just try to look at it in terms of, ‘what would the project look like?’ suggests that, simply put, Marsch will not manage a club unless the project is right. That means a sporting director-system. That means a long-term vision for recruitment. That means an institutionalised style of play.

Celtic has none of those things. And that’s why Jesse Marsch will not be heading to Parkhead. Monchengladbach is much more likely.

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

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