Maloney out to prove himself
Shaun Maloney will focus on impressing the new Celtic boss regardless of who he is or who will help form his management team. The Scottish giantsare looking for Finland coach Stuart Baxter to work as a director of football to Neil Lennon, who is set to be appointed permanent manager after a spell as interim boss at the end of last season.
Lennon will will have former Hoops team-mates Johan Mjallby and Alan Thompson as part of his coaching staff, with the latter appearing to take one step closer to his return to Glasgow after Newcastle confirmed today that he has left the club. However, Hoops players and fans are in limbo while it remains unclear if Lennon is agreeable to the idea of working with Baxter, who has coached and managed all over the world but not in Scotland.
But midfielder Maloney, whose Achilles injury has kept him on the sidelines since the 1-0 defeat by Hearts in October, says he is fit and ready to fight for a first-team place again no matter who is installed in the hot seat. "The manager tells you if you are playing or not, tells you how to play and if you don't then you don't play, it is as simple as that," said Maloney.
"I'd like to think I would not have any trouble whoever the manager is going to be. But I know that whoever gets the job, I am obviously going to have to prove myself to him because I haven't played football for a little while. I know the name (Baxter) and what he has done in different countries in Europe and things like that. I know he has been mentioned but I'm not entirely sure what's happening.
Maloney added: "I've got to be honest, I'm not entirely sure what the director of football entails, I couldn't really answer that. I saw it the first year I was here when I was 16 and cleaning boots and on kit duty, and I haven't seen it since so I'm not sure what you would have to do for that job. But if he is part of a team - and Lenny does get the job - I'm sure Lenny will have full trust in all his backroom team.
"Obviously Johan came and he played a big part in the last eight or nine games of the season. Alan also did really well for us when he was a player here for six or seven years and, if he was part of the new coaching staff, he is another person who I have a lot of respect for. Hopefully something gets announced in the next few weeks after the club has done their background work.
"I think that whoever comes in to us, whether experienced or not, just needs to be the right man, and I'm sure the board will have that sort of man in mind. I can only talk for myself. I'm not overly concerned about the wait, it's just part of football. Time needed to be taken to make sure we get the right person and I can fully understand that."
While most of his Celtic team-mates are on holiday, Maloney will build on his fitness before he takes a break. "I'm fully fit, and have been for two or three weeks," he said. "I had an Achilles problem that kept me out for a few months or so and unfortunately within a few days back training other things broke down. It kept happening each time I tried to get back to training and it was frustrating.
"I was down in London numerous times during the first few months. But I always knew there would be a time when I was going to be fit, so it could have been worse. The main goal is to stay fit and play as many games as I can next season so pre-season is a big thing in my mind."