The thing is, the piece contains two separate strands of information which on the suffer appear to be contradictory but which I believe paint an all-too-clear picture of a club on the brink of chaos.
Phil says that two separate high-level individuals have told him contradictory tales; the first is that Desmond is so impressed by Howe that he went back on his initial intention, which was to hire Keane as boss and fan opinion and all else be damned.
When I was on the Endless Celts podcast the other day, one of the subjects which came up was whether or not Howe’s demand for total control was something Desmond would be comfortable with.
He gave full autonomy to Rodgers, before a certain person clawed control back to himself.
If he’s interested in Keane, then he knows that the Irishman will not allow anyone to pick and choose his staff for him; my view on it is that if Desmond would have given that control to Keane he would certainly have no issues giving it to Howe.
Phil’s first source suggested that all of those things had been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction; you have to believe that everyone around the table was entirely relaxed about the process as afterwards there was a lot of mutual backslapping going on, with the press being well briefed that the club thought that we were just about over the line.
It all makes sense, right? Until, that is, something changed.
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Now Phil’s second source says that Celtic has flatly turned Howe down, because he wants to bring as many as five backroom staff with him. That puts the chances of this deal at close to zero, because Howe wants complete control and we’ve said no.
Phil says both sources can’t be right, but I can actually think of one scenario where that’s not the case; it’s in a scenario where the board is divided and working at cross purposes.
Earlier on I wondered if perhaps the impending arrival of Dominic McKay signalled something big was in the offing; I speculated that maybe we were gearing up to make all three top tier announcements in one go, with McKay taking the reins on the same day we unveiled a manager and a director of football.
This would have been a game-changer.
But of course, it’s equally possible that someone on the board – and someone with enough authority to make it happen – wants McKay in there to break the logjam, to swing things in one direction or another.
That would not surprise me one bit.
We have been at this for eight weeks now.
The press was briefed on Keane and the hammer looked ready to fall, naming him boss.
The flattering profiles were already in the media.
The endorsements were already lined up.
The big PR operation was in full swing … and then it wasn’t because he was being briefed against from others within the club.
Is exactly the same thing happening with Howe?
Are there people within Celtic who are determined to have their own way here, even if they are not going to be in key positions when the next campaign starts?
People who, perhaps, will still have some modest role around the place but want people loyal to them in certain positions so that they can keep control via their proxies?
Fans aren’t going to tolerate this nonsense for much longer.
I expect an announcement in the next seven or eight days.
If we haven’t named a manager by the end of Dominic McKay’s first day on the job, then it’s pretty clear that he is in there to clean up the mess that even now people are making behind the scenes.
All the way through this process the biggest question mark is over whether the people who made this momentous mess could be trusted to clean it up. Neil Lennon was removed from his post in February; that was much too late to help us with the title race. We are a third of the way through April and this is still dragging on and on and on.
The whole of this season has been an exercise in rank incompetence.
There is almost zero confidence in the board and the CEO to get this right when they have gotten so much wrong in the last 20 months.
All these people have one last chance to fix what they broke … their legacies will be this disastrous season regardless, but they can salvage a shred of their reputations by leaving us in a better place than we are right now.
Speculation is rife that they’ve shot it, and that is a destabilising force all on its own.
The only way to fix that is to appoint someone, as quickly as we can.
Kennedy was talking last week about how we can’t afford to make an appointment just to prop up season ticket sales; he has gone mad if he believes that we will be able to do it after those renewals forms go out and the fans make it clear that handing over their money on the promise of jam tomorrow just isn’t on.
If we’ve told Howe he’s not going to be allowed to pick his own staff then the word on that will go round every top manager in England and beyond pretty sharpish, and that is an even bigger destabilising force.
It was the attempts of some within the club to control the football operation which got us into this mess. If we’re still playing those games, then no lessons have been learned and it’s going to cost us and we’ll end up with a third rate option regardless of who else is in charge.
Don’t think that can’t happen; at least one board-friendly blog is already pushing the line that as long as “the structure” is correct that it doesn’t matter what the name is on the manager’s door.
This is exactly the kind of thinking that will wreck what is left of the last great era at this club and leave us scrambling to keep pace with a team we should have left behind.
Phil has good sources inside and outside Celtic Park.
His track record is vastly better than his critics would have you believe; time and time again he’s given this blog information behind the scenes which has turned out to be right on the money.
His two sources here might seem to be telling wildly divergent tales, and in a sense they are … but that could be down to the board itself being hopelessly split on the issue.
At Celtic nothing ever runs as smoothly as it’s meant to, and as long as certain individuals want to control areas in which they are grossly unqualified we will not move forward as we should.