Imagine, just for a minute, that everything goes to plan and Celtic appoint Eddie Howe as their new boss.
There will be so many major issues he’ll have to deal with. He’ll have to manage a successful rebuild of the football club whilst ensuring that we take the title in his first year in charge. He’ll need to turn morale around at Celtic Park and manage to implement a footballing philosophy all whilst winning on a weekly-basis. Oh, and an improvement in Europe would be nice please.
Yep, it’s quite the to-do list in your first season. None of it, of course, should be labelled a pipe dream. These are all achievable targets that Howe, or any new manager, will need to meet.
It makes it even more difficult considering the changes occurring off the pitch too. Dominic McKay is coming in as the club’s new Chief Executive. We’ve still to appoint our Director of Football too.
But there is one task that has been put to Howe by pundits which he simply can’t be expected to pull off – the retention of our biggest assets.
Mark Wilson was first up on Sky Sports yesterday [06/04, 13:21], when he said: “I would like to see Howe in Glasgow now, this week and in before the Scottish Cup game against Rangers to give him the best opportunity to assess the squad and maybe try and convince some of these guys who are linked with moves away – Edouard, Ajer, Christie – that perhaps it’s in their best interests to stay under him and a new coaching team.”
Even goalkeeper Scott Bain hinted that Celtic’s best players may even be interested in staying if Howe was appointed. Speaking in the Daily Mail [print edition, 05/04, page 79], Bain said: “They might do, you never know. Every player has their own agendas about what they want to achieve in football and where they want to play. It’s an individual thing. But you never know, whoever comes in might convince people who thought they wanted to play somewhere else to stay.”
Eddie Howe being appointed likely won’t lead to big-name players staying
This all sounds great in theory. The likes of Odsonne Edouard and Kris Ajer being wowed by the Howe appointment so much that they decide to change their future plans and stay put.
But the truth is this likely will have no effect on these players’ long-term plans. Edouard and Ajer, our two best players down to the final 12 months of their contracts this summer, have career plans. They’ll want to move due to the quality of player they’re up against every week. Not because they don’t like the manager.
Howe, if appointed, will hopefully raise the standards tenfold at Parkhead. But he can’t change who players are up against on a weekly basis. The likes of Odsonne and Kris Ajer will feel they’ve proven themselves at this level now. Considering they’ve thrived under Brendan Rodgers in the past, they won’t feel they’re about to experience anything they haven’t done beforehand.
The new manager can by all means sit down and chat with them. It would be ideal for him to see where his best players’ minds are at regardless. But expecting him to be able to keep them or tie them down to new deals isn’t really on.
Appointing a new boss doesn’t tackle the fundamental reasons for which they’ll want to depart. We don’t suddenly become a club in one of Europe’s top five leagues because we’ve appointed Eddie Howe, for example. Ajer, meanwhile, has his international boss urging him to move too. That’s hardly helpful for the new man either [The Herald].
In order for these players to reach their club and international ambitions, unfortuantely there comes a time when they need to leave Celtic. We’ve had four great years out of Edouard. Ajer has been here since 2016. It’s time to let go, regardless of who comes in as the next manager.