Profile: Potential Celtic coaches Simon Weatherstone and Stephen Purches
So, by now you’ll know that likely Celtic manager Eddie Howe has been waiting patiently.
While we are collectively biting our nails, Howe has been letting the clock tick until two key men became available [Daily Record]. Two of his trusted confidantes, Stephen Purches and Simon Weatherstone, were helping Jonathan Woodgate to the play-off spots, but Brentford have put paid to hopes of a Premier League return for the Cherries [Guardian].
But who are these coaches we’ve waited so long for? Here’s a quick profile on Purches and Weatherstone, which will make for exciting reading from a Celtic perspective.
Stephen Purches: a good fit for Celtic
“Purchy”, as Eddie Howe refers to him, spent 11 years over two spells as a player at Bournemouth. A reliable centre-back during the Cherries’ rise through the leagues, a horrific leg break ended his playing career prematurely [BBC]. Although the mental strain of a forced exit from his playing career took its toll, Purches immediately busied himself, coaching the U21s from 2014.
His trajectory was fairly predictable. Eddie Howe asked him to join his staff in 2017, before serving as Jason Tindall’s assistant after Howe’s 2020 departure. He’s described as being meticulous, a kind person with high standards and always well turned out [67 Hail Hail].
Jonathan Woodgate said of Purches [Bournemouth Echo]:
“Purchy has been very good. He’s a really, really impressive coach. Some of the sessions he puts on are really good.
“He’s great with advice, I ask for his opinions and I think that’s important as a group that you rely on each other, you rely on people’s opinions and they give you an honest view and that’s what I get.
“I don’t like yes men, I like people with opinions. I like people to test me and push boundaries and I think as a coach that’s the only way you’re going to evolve.”
Reading-born ex-pro Simon Weatherstone is a more enigmatic character, but no less interesting. Having played in the lower reaches of the English pyramid with Oxford United, Crawley Town and Yeovil, it’s perhaps more as a coach that Weatherstone has made his name.
A former member of staff at Burnley, where Eddie Howe spent a brief time in charge, Weatherstone moved to the south coast in 2014. It was a potentially risky move, but Weatherstone has thrived in a role that he wanted since he was a pre-teen. He told the Bournemouth Echo in 2014:
“I was only about 12 or 13 but that was where my passion for coaching really began and it just carried on throughout my career.
“As a player, I was always a thinker and constantly tried to help my team-mates with their technique.”
Another meticulous and voracious football enthusiast, his obsessive attention-to-detail was mapped out in the same article with the Echo. He continued [Bournemouth Echo]:
“Your mind never switches off because you might put on a drill and all of a sudden, you’re back home having dinner and think ‘I could add that in, we should have done it that way.’
“A set-piece might pop into your head or you might see something on telly. As silly as it sounds, watching games on the TV is still part of your development.
“You might see a set-piece you really like that you could tweak to make it fit what you do. I think every coach in the world does that.”
Given Celtic’s wastefulness from set-pieces, as well as our inability to defend them, that’s welcome news. Clearly, between Purches and Weatherstone, there’s a wealth of experience, despite their tender years by coaching standards.
By now, it seems a case of picking a day Eddie Howe will be appointed as Celtic manager. If we can sort out his most faithful right-hand men, who are established coaches in their own right, it really could be worth the wait.