As Eddie Howe edges closer to the Celtic job, spare a thought for the infrastructure at the club.
Yes, they’ve been appalling this season. We’ve lurched from chaotic scene to disaster statement. The club’s hierarchy sat and watched as a squad ill-equipped for the 10 faltered. They fell asleep at the wheel, if you like.
And rather than communicate with fans in a meaningful way; instead they’ve offered Q&As, wild statements about Coronavirus, and the sense that we’re wrong and they’re right. Despite results over the course of the season being nowhere near good enough, we’ve been treated with a level of contempt.
So, appointing Eddie Howe doesn’t necessarily appease the supporters, and nor should it. But it goes some way to protecting one legacy (to a degree) and forging a new one in the absolute best manner.
With Lawwell departing in the summer, there will be debates about his impact on the club for a long, long time yet. For every fan who appreciates the sheer volume of trophies under the CEO, there’s another who blames Lawwell for not reaching the 10, or for the corporatisation of Celtic Football Club over the last 20 years. They’re both right, in their own way.
McKay, meanwhile, is an exciting appointment in himself, but he needs results. A substantial, quality manager coming through the door at Celtic Park is just that.
Eddie Howe doesn’t magically solve everything, but his appointment would show a plan, at least
You could say this is all at least a year too late. That, when Eddie Howe became unemployed in August 2020 [BBC], Celtic ought to have sought him out then.
That ignores a few things though; Neil Lennon had just won another title and cup double, with the Scottish Cup to be played later. Signings were to be made, based on how Lennon wanted to play. We were all feeling more positive about Lennon in August last year, at least in the short-term. Few could’ve predicted how sharp the decline was going to be this season. There were signs it’d be far more difficult, sure, but the gulf in quality between 19-20 and 20-21 took everyone by surprise.
Equally, you could say that well, fine: Lennon should’ve been relieved of his duties, with a quality replacement brought in sooner. That’s an entirely reasonable assessment. Lawwell’s inability to make big decisions quickly was perhaps to his detriment, as well as the club’s.
So, there’s that. And again, Howe arriving at Celtic, should he be named in the near future, doesn’t absolve Lawwell of his impact this season. However, it at least shows a kind of remorse and want for redemption. Howe isn’t going to come cheap, and he’s going to want a structure in place that removes responsibilities from Lawwell, a structure the club are actively pursuing. It seems, at last, he’s willing to cede a degree of control.
It took until his retirement, granted. But he’s at least showing he wants to be part of establishing a new culture. One that’ll last long after this summer, when Lawwell’s retirement begins in earnest.
As for McKay, the timing of this handover gives the impression of his involvement in the hiring of a new boss. That’s valuable, and will earn him some clout with Celtic supporters, however justified.