Marvin Bartley outlines why Celtic-linked Eddie Howe failed at Burnley

By David Walton

April 13, 2021

Livingston midfielder Marvin Bartley has explained the “drinking culture” that led to Eddie Howe having a thankless task with Burnley.

Celtic-linked Howe’s spell with the Clarets is the only blot in his managerial book. The Englishman was appointed Burnley boss in January 2011 after managing promotion to League One with Bournemouth. However, despite promotion being targeted, Burnley would only finidh 8th and then 13th under Howe before he resigned.

In recent weeks, he’s been reported as having held talks with Celtic [Scottish Sun]. His agent has recently squashed any rumours he’s close to joining another club, however [Daily Mail].

And it appears his poor spell at Burnley 10 years ago was hardly his fault either. Speaking to Open Goal, Livi midfielder Bartley, who was signed by Howe for Burnley, opened up on that period of his career:

“The changing room was so bad in terms of drinking culture. They were such massive drinkers. I remember one night when we were going to a game and you could hear the sound of glass bottles hitting each other as we got off. Like, we’re playing tomorrow, man!

“There was nothing you could do with that changing room. He [Howe] tried to change things and go with a younger team, but the board wanted success right away. They wanted to get the club back to the Premier League. It’s not that easy.

“The difficulty is that a lot of them were the same age as him. When they weren’t doing what he wanted them to, he was like ‘right, you’re going’. But the thing was that a lot of them knew they were going at the end of the season, so it just went the other way.”

Eddie Howe appeared to have an impossible task at Burnley

It would’ve been interesting to see whether Howe could’ve made a success of it in his third season at Burnley. Especially considering Sean Dyche came in and got them promoted almost instantly.

Even so, it appeared to be an impossible situation for Howe specifically. Dealing with an ageing squad that had no interest in sticking together for the long-term? It was a tough ask.

At the time, Howe was only 33 years of age when he walked into Burnley. Trying to deal with what Bartley described as a “drinking culture” would’ve been difficult. Especially considering he wasn’t even the oldest compared to his first-team squad.

Eddie Howe during his Burnley days (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

This should put anyone at ease who isn’t keen on Howe because of his Burnley spell. That shouldn’t be the period that defines him. And even if there were lessons to be learned from it, he’s now 10 years wiser with a decade more managerial experience to his name.

At Celtic, he’ll get the chance to rebuild if he decides to take the gig on. That’s something that must be salivating for him considering it’s what he excelled in with Bournemouth.

We’ll see what the coming weeks provide. But it’s great to see Bartley coming out and defending the potential future Celtic boss for his Burnley tenure.

In other news, Joe Ledley has explained why Celtic rejected his request to train at Lennoxtown.