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Celtic have taken too long to go after Eddie Howe writes Keith Jackson – Daily Record

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Now it seems certain that Eddie is the answer there is one blindingly obvious question which really does need to be asked.

Howe on earth did it take them so long to figure it out?

Having been accused by their own supporters of falling asleep at the wheel during this season of all seasons, it does feel as if Celtic have taken a lot longer than they ought to have done to reach a conclusion which has been staring them in the face for months.

Given that Howe’s name was being linked with this job while Neil Lennon was still in it, it’s difficult to fathom why only in the last few days have serious conversations taken place around tempting the out-of-work Englishman across the border.

It could be Dermot Desmond has something or someone else up his sleeve but given that Howe has started piecing his backroom together it would come as a monumental surprise now if the 43-year-old is not confirmed as the man to head up this summer’s equally enormous rebuild.

The first bricks will be laid this week when the appointment of a new chief executive, Dominic McKay, will be expedited in order to get the process started.

He was meant to begin his new role on July 1 but the decision to bring him in from the SRU three months ahead of schedule is a sign that Celtic really do understand the urgency of the situation after all.

McKay could be slipping into Peter Lawwell’s big leather seat as early as tomorrow morning and when his arrival on the scene is announced to the stock exchange then a new era can finally begin.

Not a moment too soon either as this has felt like a club which has been placed on pause ever since 10 In A Row began to hit the buffers in October.

That’s precisely why McKay’s imminent unveiling will effectively signal the pressing of Celtic’s reset button. Given Sunday’s Scottish Cup draw it could be the new manager’s starting date is also rushed forward ahead of a trip to Ibrox in less than a fortnight’s time.

And yet whatever happens next, it will all be too late for Scott Brown who may also be wondering why it took so long for Howe to be spoken to given the long established availability of the ex-Bournemouth boss.

Celtic Captain Scott Brown celebrates

Scott Brown has already decided to move on to pastures new
(Image: SNS Group / SFA)

Brown may well have opted to hang around to help him out rather than commit to a new dual role as player and coach at Aberdeen if the situation had been addressed more swiftly and resolved with a greater sense of urgency.

And it’s likely too Howe would have valued Brown’s continued presence as he has a track record for appreciating the importance of keeping experienced campaigners on board.

When he took his first tentative steps into management on the south coast in 2008, aged just 31, one of his first major decisions was to re-sign club legend Steve Fletcher, a veteran striker who attained hero status during a 15-year career at Dean Court.

At that point Bournemouth were anchored to the bottom of League Two, in administration, docked 17 points and plummeting towards non-league football and perhaps even extinction.

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Howe was thrown headlong into a managerial baptism of fire midway through a campaign which had been shaping up as a catastrophe but his decision to bring Fletcher back to the club was seen as a turning point and eventually hailed as the masterstroke which made a miraculous escape possible.

Eddie Howe, manager of Bournemouth celebrates with the trophy after winning the Championship

Howe’s Bournemouth fairytale is one of football’s great stories
(Image: Getty Images)

The story of his heroic emergence as a manager is charted in a documentary entitled Minus 17 which offers a fascinating insight into his philosophy and methods.

He was offered this basket case of a job on a caretaker capacity over the phone during a New Year’s Eve party at the home of close pal Richard Hughes – the man he hopes to bring with him to Celtic as director of football.

“You have to get your head around the idea and you begin to understand the sacrifices you are going to have to make. The change of psychology,” Howe says as he recalls the chain of car crash events which bounced him into the dugout before his time.

But he might as well be talking about his latest job offer. Howe goes on: “When you go into a role that big your whole mindset has to change and be devoted to the role. So very quickly, even in those first few hours, I was beginning to plot what I was going to do and how I was going to do it.”


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At one point he goes on to add: “If everything had been easy at the start then the story wouldn’t have been as good for one but also, who is to say we’d have got there? Those knocks we had along the way were very powerful reminders of how volatile football can be.”

Suffice to say, if Howe thinks he’s experienced football’s volatile side at the re-branded Vitality Stadium then he may be in for something of a shock if or when he does decide to put pen to paper at Parkhead.

But McKay too will have to learn the ropes quickly which is why it’s of such importance that he’s chosen to press the ejector button in his Murrayfield office ahead of schedule.

Yes, he will be able to lean on Peter Lawwell over the course of these next few months as the big decisions which will shape the club’s future are being made. But, by agreeing to move now, he is also displaying a willingness to take ownership of them. It certainly smacks of the sort of leadership which will be required as Celtic attempt to recover from such a ruinous campaign.

It’s perhaps an ironic twist of fate that, in the very year Howe was starting out as Bournemouth boss back in 2008, McKay was joining the SRU as head of communications.

They’ve both come a long way in that time. But their defining journey may be only just beginning.

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