Former SFA man Mark Wotte weighs in on Eddie Howe/DoF discussion at Celtic

By Euan Davidson

April 9, 2021

Former SFA man Mark Wotte has given his perspective on the Celtic/Eddie Howe drama.

Speculation persists that Eddie Howe wants to bring in his own Director of Football, Richard Hughes. Ewan Murray of the Guardian stated that Hughes is in the running to take the DoF job, last utilised by Kenny Dalglish in 99-00. The rumours are that Howe will not take the Celtic job unless his friend and former colleague is given the role.

The former SFA Performance Director, Mark Wotte, also worked on the South coast of England, and is familiar with Howe. In fact, Wotte claims that he sold Eddie Howe on former Aberdeen winger Ryan Fraser.

A manager of Southampton in 2009, Wotte is extremely well-travelled. The ex-SFA man said [Daily Record]:

“Look, it’s legitimate for Eddie Howe to ask for a director of football in the hope there’s a level of confidentiality and trust between the roles.

“I see his point bringing more support by his side as he comes in to this huge Scottish club where he’ll want to work his way.

“But from a club point of view, it’s the wrong way around. Celtic should appoint a director of football who helps pick the manager and is a long-term appointment independent of the manager.

“A club needs to feel comfortable with its director of football because the manager, as Brendan Rodgers showed us, can leave at any time if a more attractive job comes up.

“And if the head coach loses eight games in a row, the director of football should take the best decision for the club – and not for the manager.”

Mark Wotte and Craig Levein, in 2012 / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Wotte makes salient points about Eddie Howe and Celtic, yet we’re unsure how much of this story is based in reality

Wotte continued:

“What if, after Brendan Rodgers, Leicester wants Eddie Howe? Then he could take Hughes with him.

“But as Celtic’s director of football, Hughes has a very responsible job looking after the long term strategy of different departments of the club.

“Listen, if Celtic decide Richard Hughes is the one for the next five to 10 years then that shouldn’t be a problem. He could be a great appointment.

“But if it is to accommodate Howe because he’s a trustee of his and they’ve had good experiences together, then that’s different. The job description is key here.

“I’m not aware of the job description of the title Eddie is suggesting or what Celtic are demanding. Is Hughes to take care of the jobs around the first team that Eddie doesn’t want to do so that Eddie is on the training pitch and touchline?

“I can’t argue with that to make your new manager feel more comfortable. Then maybe he is head of first-team football operations?

“If I was Celtic, I’d look for someone to do the job in a similar way as Michael Zorc at Borussia Dortmund, Marc Overmars at Ajax and Monchi at Sevilla.”

Richard Hughes, back in his Bournemouth days / (Photo by AMA/Corbis via Getty Images)

What is actually going on?

Wotte is bang-on. If it’s right that Howe wants to bring in Richard Hughes as Director of Football, that’s the tail wagging the dog.

What we don’t actually know, though, is whether that is indeed the case.

There are more jobs on offer than just manager and DoF. If Celtic were to truly revamp their backroom staff, then there could be roles for a First Team Director, or a new Head of Recruitment, amongst others. A Technical Director, perhaps, with more emphasis on hiring staff around Howe. We’re collectively wedded to this idea that it’s Richard Hughes or bust for Howe. That might not be the case at all.

It’s a lot for us to get our head round; after all, we’re used to the all-powerful manager with a say in everything. That’s a system with its own values, but it’s considerably old-fashioned by today’s measures. It’s incredibly possible we’re making a fuss over a hypothetical.

If not, of course, we should worry long-term. For many supporters, it’s a hit worth taking if it means we actually land Eddie Howe.

See the next time anyone tries to tell you that football is a simple game? Talk them through all this.

READ MORE: John Kennedy is absolutely right here, and deserves plaudits for saying it.