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25 May 2021

It now appears that Eddie Howe will be the next manager of Celtic. After much speculation it seems that the Englishman who looks like he should be a member of a boy band will be in the hot seat this season.

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If that’s true it is an excellent appointment. Howe was hugely successful with Bournemouth. It has to be said at this point that there is no magic formula in the appointment of a new manager. Take the example of Stephen Kenny, the manager of the Irish team, for example. Kenny was very successful as manager of Dundalk and of the under 21 Irish team and most followers of the Irish team are expecting this success to continue with the senior team. However, this has yet to happen and while things may change for the better, the signs are not particularly encouraging at present.

The point I’m making here is that the appointment of a new manager does not come with a warranty as if you were buying a new car. Having said that, Eddie Howe did brilliant work with Bournemouth, taking the team from the fourth tier [or League 2 as it’s called] to the premiership. This is a fantastic achievement, almost incredible, and is proof of his effectiveness as a manager. This would be outside the capabilities of most managers in England, and not only that but he kept Bournemouth in the premiership for five seasons. This would be a first rate appointment.

I must confess that I was a little bit worried when Roy Keane’s name came up in the context of this position when you consider that he last managed ten years ago. He didn’t do very well as manager. He was also the assistant manager to the Irish team and did little except fight with some of the players. He does not have the necessary skill set to be a successful manager and should stick to TV punditry.

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Thankfully, it now seems that Keane will not be coming to Celtic Park and that it will be Howe instead. Of course other names were associated with the appointment., such as Chris Wilder, Enzo Maresco and Frank Lampard. However, I feel that the appointment of Howe trumps any of these. Howe has a level of experience and success that the others lack.

Of course there will be a number of changes taking place at Celtic Park in the near future, with a new Chief Executive in the form of Dominic McKay, coming in as successor to Peter Lawwell and a new appointment as Director of Football. A new name has been mentioned in this context in the light of Howe’s impending appointment, that is Richard Hughes.

Hughes worked with Howe when he was with Bournemouth and it seems that they worked well together at that time. It appears at this point that this is slowing down the confirmation of Howe as manager and although Howe has made a verbal agreement with Celtic to take the reigns, no written contract has yet been signed. It is important that the manger relates well to the Director of Football so that agreement can be reached as regards the signing of new players and so forth.

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It also appears that Hughes has a comprehensive knowledge of Scottish football in that he himself is a Scot and played for Scotland. He also has playing experience in Italy and England. I hope that Hughes will be more successful as regards the signing of new players than Nick Hammond, who is also left the club, and who was responsible for the signing of players who were nowhere near the mark, and for wasteful expenditure of millions of pounds.

The role of Director of Football will be crucial from the perspective of recruitment of players when you consider the amount of players predicted to leave Celtic Park in the near future, those such as Ajer, Christie and Edouard, not to mention those players on loan such as Kenny, Elyounoussi, Laxalt and Duffy all returned to their parent clubs.

The priority, however, has to be a new goalkeeper. It seems that neither Barkas, Bain nor Hazard are of the standard required to be the first choice keeper with Celtic and a new keeper has to be signed as a matter of urgency. Similarly a new centre-half must be found and in this regard I hear that Celtic are interested in re-signing Filip Benkovic on loan.

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I believe that midfield is strong with Soro, McGregor and Turnbull and it was great to see James Forrest back in action and ready for the new season. However, up front, I believe that Klimala’s move to the USA was a good move for all parties and Ajeti should be moved on as his not of the required standard.

It will be necessary to sign replacements for the above-named players. Maybe there is a possibility that Marian Shved could return to Celtic Park. He is still a Celtic player and playing well in Belgium. He had difficulties in Scotland and there was a language barrier [and in my opinion proficiency in English should not be a requirement in order to be a Celtic player] and it might be possible for Eddie Howe to get the best out of him and to facilitate him becoming the player we know he can be. Similarly, Jack Hendry is also playing well in Belgium.

As regards Howe himself, some commentators have suggested that he will face fresh challenges as manager of Celtic. Clearly, there will be problems that he did not encounter with Bournemouth, i.e. the expectation that exists at Celtic Park that every game must be won, something that is not of course present at Bournemouth, and it will be interesting to see the way in which Howe deals wit this pressure. I believe that Howe will be well able to deal with this. When you think of it, he was once mentioned as a possible manager of England. He is therefore a first class manager.

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I’m looking forward to the managerial competition between him and Steven Gerrard. Clearly, Gerrard is a hugely effective manager, with the probability that he will be the next manager of Liverpool, but maybe now he will meet his match and we will find out just how good he is. This depends, of course, on how successful Celtic are in bringing in new players of the appropriate standard shortly.

I’m hopeful that Eddie Howe [and Richard Hughes and Dominic McKay] will be successful and that Celtic will take their place once more at the top of the table in the new season. I expect normal service to be resumed.

Tim Molloy lives in Drogheda with his wife of 35 years and with (on occasions) his three grown up children. He is a life-long Celtic supporter and an Irish language enthusiast. He also speaks some Spanish and French and a few words of Polish and Czech. He also follows the fortunes of the Munster rugby team.He is a law graduate of London University and is a High Court Registrar.
Other than an interest in all things Celtic, he is long time observer of the League of Ireland. His other hobbies include walking, cycling and he is a member of St. Peter’s Male Voice Choir in Drogheda.

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