We all know by now that the club has met with both Keane and Howe.
It’s possible that we’ve met with a few others as well, quietly and without the press getting wind of it. The Howe deal appears to be the one we’ve settled on; the briefing to that effect is no accident.
The last time we heard that talks with a manager were at the “advanced” stage it was Brendan Rodgers and I don’t know a single fan who wasn’t holding his breath for the time between that story breaking and our sealing the deal to bring him in.
This feels a little like that, it has that vibe about it, which means we’re close.
And yet, it looked a lot like Keane was going to get the nod not that long ago.
The rumour mill was churning but it wasn’t the only thing that was. There was a sophisticated PR machine behind the idea that we were courting Keane and it put that story out there very deliberately.
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What followed was a fan backlash … and then an odd series of articles from people close to the club, scorching the idea. One or both of those responses changed minds, I think, and Keane went from being the favourite to being a rank outsider.
I checked with the bookies yesterday; they were offering 14-1 on him, from a position as the favourite not that long ago. They smelled the change in the wind.
So too did people at Celtic Park. The blogs have been relentless in hammering home the message that Keane’s appointment would not be welcomed. But it was definitely being considered, and if we should screw up the Howe negotiations or fail to give him what he wants I have no doubt whatsoever that Keane will be appointed manager.
That’s where we seem to be today; at a straight choice between the two.
We’ve as good as confirmed that Howe is the first choice; some of the hacks, doubtless being well briefed, say he is the unanimous choice of the board … and that is surely the case.
Keane though has admirers in there and we are kidding ourselves on if we pretend not to know that Desmond is one of them.
This is why you cannot simply dismiss Keane as no longer an option; if Howe says no we’re going to get the former Manchester Utd player instead and it kind of feels like the board has come too far on both of these options to start on a third.
Whatever it was – whether it was the fan backlash or the boardroom split – Keane went from being the favoured option for some to the status of also-ran.
The media may try to dress this up if we get Howe, by pointing out that others wanted Keane, but actually I prefer to look at it from the perspective of consensus; Howe is the guy everyone can get behind, the guy about whom there are no doubts and that does him the first choice as far as I’m concerned.
This is what will please me most if its Howe and we close this deal; his appointment will have been a collective decision with the views of the fans considered as well.
It might just be that this club is finally on the way to healing. It is about time.