This article was published, first, on 22 April, with the title Every Day That Passes Increases The Risk That Celtic Will Act Out Of Panic.
It didn’t take a genius to see where we were headed; tonight, a full month on, we’re told the club is in “advanced negotiations” with one of the lesser candidates.
I’m republishing this piece because we should be worried about who that is.
We are now hurtling towards the end of this campaign and the small window before pre-season season starts, and we are still a club floundering and nowhere.
I am aghast that a so-called professional organisation believes it is right for us to cycle so close to the edge of disaster in this way.
Every day that passes now increases the likelihood that we are on the cusp of a terrible, terrible mistake.
Imagine what happens if Howe decides not to take the job, and Keane decides that he feels messed about and let down to the point he doesn’t want it either.
Our club has a way of making people feel unwanted and unvalued.
They should ask the fans how we feel after a season of being roundly ignored and scorned.
If those guys walk what are we left with? Plan C?
That Keane is our fall-back option should tell you how frankly terrifying Plan C must be, if Plan C exists at all.
That ticking clock, that countdown, leaves absolutely no room for going back to the drawing board, and what astonishes – and shocks – me is that this is not some blinding piece of insight; every person who ever worked on a project with a deadline knows that you try to get it done as professionally, but also as quickly, as you can because we don’t know what lies in front of us, and if you’re delaying it and delaying it and delaying it you are risking some confluence of events outside of your control sweeping you away and leaving you unable to fulfil your obligations.
We’ve done this before in terms of signing players. John McGinn. Ivan Toney. Ben Davies.
These guys were on the premises.
The deals for them could have been done.
Celtic were convinced that McGinn had committed to signing. Toney was at the training ground ready to put pen to paper. The deal for Davies was all-but confirmed by the manager.
All collapsed, in the cases of McGinn and Davies leaving us literally marooned.
Davies’ decision meant we had to promote from within, which is a blessing, but it was clear when McGinn signed for Villa that we had so completely, and arrogantly, assumed he would sign for us that we had no fall-back option … we ended up signing Mulumba who had been available for free for months.
I am petrified by what happens if Celtic fails to land Howe this late in the day.
If Keane also walks away from us I am certain that our directors will panic, and with season ticket forms still to go out the elements for a disastrous decision will all be in place.
To be blunt, it is scandalous that this has taken so long.
You could give them the benefit of cutting the timeframe to only the seven weeks which have elapsed since Lennon was shown the door, but even that is longer than it should have taken and it wasn’t just seven weeks and we’d be over-generous to them to pretend that it was.
There is not a soul in Scottish football who was not wholly aware that Lennon would be lucky to see out the season, and with the scale of the rebuilding job in the summer obvious to even the stupidest person we should have been working on our shortlists well in advance of the Lennon decision.
We should have had five or six names and been ready to open negotiations with all of them the moment Lennon left the club. That’s how top teams do it, it might seem ruthless but the institution comes first.
Instead we’re fumbling about hoping that nothing goes wrong in the last minute – and it’s literally the last minute we’re talking about here.
What a shameful situation … and dangerous as well.