The last time I published anything, I covered Neil Lennon’s “too little, too late” departure. 10IAR was dead and so too was the season with the exception of the Scottish Cup, though caretaker John Kennedy and the squad have taken care of that now and the fans still await the appointment of a new manager.
Had Kennedy hoped to be in contention for the head coach job he has done absolutely nothing to convince anyone. I don’t think anyone was surprised, in fact they are probably relieved because given his time served in the first team coaching staff he is as much at fault as the guy who took the fall.
The club took the Neil Lennon out of the firing line in last February to calm the crowd. It made little difference on the park, but partially appeased fans.
What the fans really wanted was a new appointment, though any new manager may not have been overly keen at taking charge of an ill-fated season. Rumours have covered virtually everything breathing coach in the game that is currently available or has even uttered “Celtic” in sentence.
The biggest rumour has of course been none other than Eddie Howe. With catchphrases such as “agreed in principle” being used in the media to suggest he was Celtic’s man were met equally with “His plan remains to not return to management until the summer at the earliest.”
Most people’s reading of the latter statement was that it couldn’t possibly be Howe getting the job. Many Celtic fans felt a new manager should be coming in now, but would that make sense?
There’s a couple of ways to look at this. Firstly, Celtic are in the closing stages of quite possibly the worst season since Tony Mowbray was head coach.
Our fall from grace has been epic. To turn things around in time for next season will take a monumental effort at boardroom and dressing room level.
There are player’s futures to be looked at as well as deciding where we will need to strengthen. All of which must be done with an international tournament on the horizon as well as a European club competition to qualify for.
If Eddie Howe is indeed Celtic’s man, I can’t imagine he would want to put his name to a tainted season. He’ll want a blank canvas once this season is over because he has a reputation to protect as well as a supporter group with high expectations not to mention his prospective employers.
Though his management career began with saving a club from relegation, his reputation as been establish through his ability to promote that club up the English leagues. Remaining in the top flight as a small club (albeit with more millions that a club like Celtic) was the pinnacle of that success and quite an achievement at that especially when the clubs you are up against are attracting the sort of talent a club like Bournemouth cannot.
If he has “agreed in principle” that’s because he isn’t coming in until later as was stated by one of his representatives “until the summer.” Of course there have been other rumours, but none as strong as this one.
Kennedy is being given his opportunity to lead for the first time. I think it is a mark of respect for the guy, but at the same time he isn’t the man to lead Celtic right now.
In all honesty, I think he should go and take charge of another club in the summer. He needs to be his own man and as we have seen for the last couple of months, he doesn’t have any answers up his sleeve.
That was pretty apparent during this season because given how far we had fallen, Lennon would have leaned on him as his assistant. So come the summer I expect a full clear out of first team coaching staff including Gavin Strachan.
Retaining either of these guys would be retaining part of the problem and would be a fatal mistake. The club desperately needs a fresh start with a new coaching team and right now I get the impression that whilst the trail seems to have gone cold in the public eye, that Celtic already have their man.
And if that is the case, then work will already be getting done behind the scenes by that man. It doesn’t sound like Celtic, but as a club we have a occasionally pulled a rabbit out of the hat.
There is nothing to suggest that Howe isn’t the man either, though nobody at the club or any of his representatives have killed this. So I am confident that he will be announced when the season is over.
What will also be interesting is who his back room staff will be. Jason Tindall was Howe’s assistant for 12 years and would have been a likely candidate, but he took a coaching role at Sheffield United back in mid-March.
So I would assume he is not on that list. There are of course other coaches he worked with at Bournemouth over the years which he may look at, but one name that cropped up as a rumour around the same time as Howe, was none other than Peter Grant.
When I first heard this I thought it had to be a wind up. As much as we all love Grant, his reputation as a coach became a little tarnished during the brief Mowbray Celtic era when he was his a first team coach.
Grant has served many managers up and down the country though including Alan Pardew (West Ham), Tony Mowbray (West Brom & Celtic), Alex McLeish (Birmingham, Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest & Scotland), Kit Symons (Fulham), Felix Magath (Fulham) and Scott Gemmill (Scotland u-21). He has also managed Norwich City, Fulham (u-23’s & caretaker) and up until recently Alloa Athletic.
The announcement of his departure from Alloa this summer could just be coincidental, but given that he was a player, player-coach and assistant at Bournemouth after, he undoubtedly has ties with Eddie Howe. Would he be looking at him as his assistant?
I’m beginning to see this being a distinct reality now. Am I totally enthused by this?
On the one hand, Eddie Howe would have quite possibly one of the most die hard Celtic mean as his right hand man. On the other hand, I still can’t get past the Mowbray era that Grant was part of or the fact that with the exception of four years at Fulham and two at Alloa, he doesn’t spend much more than a year in a job.
They say time heals and if I am being perfectly honest, I never wanted Mowbray as a manager so for me that was always going to fail with or without Grant. I was pretty clear about that if you ask anyone in my Celtic circle so perhaps I should forgive Grant for that.
What Celtic fanatic wouldn’t want to be a coach at the club they served most of their playing career? The pointer could well be the ideal man for Howe and he does have a lot of experience so as one of his assistants, this could well be a a good partnership.
For now, John Kennedy will take charge of Celtic’s three remaining league matches. After that I would expect things to start amping up around the club with an Dominic McKay announcing Eddie Howe.
We will just have to wait a bit longer.