STEPHEN MCGOWAN: Celtic’s Failure To Land Eddie Howe As Their Next Boss Will Leave A Bitter Taste

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Peter Lawwell turned 62 on Thursday. And a week after some maniac set the outgoing director’s property ablaze, hopes of a peaceful birthday fizzled when word got out of Eddie Howe’s Celtic turnaround.

Howe’s reconsideration feels like a fitting climax to a disastrous season. A Parkhead campaign for greatness has reached epic proportions for all the wrong reasons.

The list of accidents is long. From Fraser Forster to lost players, to crashes from Europe, to Boli Bolingoli, Covid-19 outbreaks, Dubai and the loss of ‘The Ten’, Celtic’s season has gone from one catastrophe to another. If Howe has really taken the club for mugs, then he’s only the last in a long line since Ferencvaros in August.

Eddie Howe’s decision to reject the Celtic job sums up their disastrous season perfectly

If the former Bournemouth boss has taken the club for mugs, he's the last in a long line

If the former Bournemouth boss has taken the club for mugs, he’s the last in a long line

As he retires in a month’s time, Lawwell can take comfort in the fact that he will soon hand all of this over to Dominic McKay, his chosen successor.

When a new director arrives, he usually has five weeks to sit under the table before the questions start. In contrast, McKay does not take the reins from Lawwell until July 1 and is already under scrutiny.

The director of a football club has a number of jobs. He defines the ethos and values ​​of the club. He oversees their commercial interests, budgets and department functions. But nothing is more important than getting a manager on the doorstep who is able to win games on a consistent basis. If you do that correctly, the rest will fall into place.

CEOs who don’t catch the worm usually don’t last long. Looking for a Scotland manager to replace Gordon Strachan, former SFA chief Stewart Regan put all his chips on Michael O’Neill. The gamble failed when O’Neill stayed with Northern Ireland and Regan lost his job shortly after. Two minutes in the door, McKay will be fine. But it is far from the best start.

Howe has been out of work since he left Bournemouth after their relegation last year

Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond

Celtic could claim that there was nothing they could have done after Howe started talks with Celtic’s majority shareholder Dermot Desmond (R) two months ago in London.

With or without Eddie Howe, Celtic always faced a daunting reconstruction job.

With Scott Brown already gone, Odsonne Edouard heading to Leicester and Newcastle raving about Kristoffer Ajer, Celtic are looking at sales of around a dozen players.

Friday night, that reconstruction process suffered a damaging setback.

Sent back to the drawing board, Celtic issued a statement talking about ‘entering into talks with some candidates’.

Whoever they’re talking to now already knows he’s second choice. He will also know how desperate they are to be re-hired and his salary requirements will reflect that. Howe’s full face threatens to be an expensive disaster for Celtic.

Howe's appointment seemed inevitable, but the club's show of confidence in him failed poorly

Howe’s appointment seemed inevitable, but the club’s show of confidence in him failed poorly

Howe's former coach Weatherstone

Purchases were also part of Howe's workforce in Bournemouth

The club failed to secure a deal to bring first team coaches Stephen Purches (right) and Simon Weatherstone (left) to Glasgow

Celtic claims they couldn’t have done more. When Howe walked into Dermot Desmond’s front room in London two months ago, the majority shareholder identified him as The Bhoy.

Assuming Irish billionaires tend to get what they want, some assumptions are made prematurely. With no work since leaving Bournemouth last August, there seemed no reason for Celtic – or Howe – to mess around. His appointment seemed more a matter of when than if.

Still, Fergus McCann – no stranger to a lengthy hunt for managers – said that in hindsight was the only perfect science. In retrospect, the Parkhead hierarchy must regret giving Howe all the time to put his backroom team together at his leisure. A display of faith failed badly.

Outgoing chief executive Peter Lawwell saw all hopes of a peaceful exit vanished after talks with Howe collapsed

Outgoing chief executive Peter Lawwell saw all hopes of a peaceful exit vanished after talks with Howe collapsed

Bournemouth Technical Director Richard Hughes was targeted to lead the recruitment. Howe also wanted first team coaches Simon Weatherstone and Stephen Purches to join him in Glasgow. A role would also have been found for former Celtic striker Mark Burchill, a Cherries scout.

Bournemouth’s defeat to Brentford in the semi-final of the Championship play-off was to open the door to completion. Howe’s trusted backroom staff’s contracts always depended on the league they worked in. Carried over to the second tier for another season, a quick finish seemed likely.

Until the Ed-Bhoy stood on the Parkhead field with a green and white scarf over his head, fans’ grim fatalism seemed justified and wise. After a season of woe, Howe’s decision follows a now familiar pattern.

Where Celtic will go from here is the question. They waited so long for Plan A that Plan B – Enzo Maresca – joined Parma on Thursday. Roy Keane? If he’s willing to act as a backup for someone, he’ll get weak in old age.

It's hard to tell where Celtic will be heading from here with a race to appoint a new coach for the start of the preseason

It’s hard to tell where Celtic will be heading from here with a race to appoint a new coach for the start of the preseason

Fans of a particular vintage will remember the last management saga that followed a ten-in-a-row season. Then, as now, it dragged on forever. Then, as now, it ended in an unsatisfactory way.

In the summer of 1998, Wim Jansen announced his resignation as head coach at the Palacio Hotel in Estoril in the days after winning the title.

Hellbent in appointing a foreign coach, Celtic failed to get their first choice from Gerard Houllier. They turned to former Norwegian manager Egil Olsen and ran into trouble with a quarantined dog. After an endless summer of speculation and rumors, Dr. Jozef Venglos was finally revealed to an in awe of the audience.

That was unfair for Venglos, and if the new man gets the same treatment this time, he may feel difficult, too. Whatever happens now, it is not a situation that he himself created.

Brendan Rodgers was revealed as Celtic's boss at a rock and roll reception in 2016

Brendan Rodgers was revealed as Celtic’s boss at a rock and roll reception in 2016

But with little-known Ange Postecoglou (left) linked to the post, the final coach could be greeted by three men and a dog

But with little-known Ange Postecoglou (left) linked to the post, the final coach could be greeted by three men and a dog

The problem is, the fans had their hearts set on Eddie Howe, and the failure to get the top target will only add to a simmering sense of serious discontent with the current board of directors. Keeping the faith has never been more difficult.

When Brendan Rodgers arrived in 2016, he did so at a rock star’s reception. Whoever landed Celtic now could stand on Parkhead’s steps with a scarf up and talk to three men and a dog.

On Friday evening, Ange Postecoglou, a 55-year-old former Australian national team coach, emerged as the new name in the frame. With players returning to pre-season training on June 17, Celtic needs someone out of work who can get started quickly. The search for the new Jozef Venglos starts now.

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