Today the media is united in briefing a single name.
We are being told that the next manager is going to be the former Australia boss Ante Postecoglou.
There is nothing in his CV which remotely qualifies him for a job this size. Limited success in a number of minor leagues is nowhere near enough to justify his appointment at Celtic.
There are literally hundreds of better options out there across the global game.
This appointment would be a joke.
Even opening talks with a candidate of this low impact stinks of panic.
Back in 2017, as Brendan Rodgers was strutting his stuff and dominating Scottish football as no manager had in years, our rivals looked at Postecoglou. They turned him down.
The guy he was being tipped to replace was a candidate on his level.
He, like Postecoglou, had achieved success in backwater football leagues.
He had won things in Mexico.
The media tried to put glitter on his appointment; The Daily Record ludicrously painted him as a football hard-man and in one of the most ridiculous headlines ever written christened him the “Portuguese James Bond” because he’d ridden on a jet-ski.
His name was Pedro Caixinha.
I assure you, this guy will not get the sycophantic and fawning press that “Pedro” initially did.
The highlight of Caixinha’s tenure was the crowning moment of the Banter Years; his addressing apoplectic Sevco fans from the bushes on the night a Luxembourgian team had knocked them out of Europe.
He was at Ibrox for eight months.
This could very easily be a disaster on that scale, and anyone who wants to ignore that is doing themselves – themselves – a huge disservice, because you have to know that this could be a disaster and therefore be psychologically prepared for it if it starts to fall apart.
Treat this as seriously as it is, view if for the appointment that it is, and you will be ready for it.
I know fearing the worst won’t insulate me from the anger … but it might numb some of the pain.
This is the Last Act Of Peter Lawwell, the man with the managerial hiring record which reads; Mowbray, zero experience Neil Lennon, unknown Ronny Deila, tabbed as Lennon’s assistant, Brendan Rodgers and the recently sacked Neil Lennon again.
Brendan Rodgers was the aberration.
Had Ibrox not self-detonated God knows what state we’d be in right now.
Lawwell got nine years of a free ride from our fans.
Now, on the way out of the CEO’s post, it seems like he doesn’t give a damn what state we’re in.
This appointment strongly suggests that Fergal Harkin will be the Director of Football, and that’s the giveaway.
It’s the City Football Group link; the Australian’s Japanese club operates under the Abu Dhabi umbrella, which also happens to employ Lawwell’s son and from which we’ve gotten a number of loanees, including one foisted on an incredulous Brendan Rodgers, which, in hindsight, was the first moment it became clear that he, too, would be second guessed by men possessing not one fraction of his ootball knowledge. It might have been the moment that started the unravelling.
We aren’t formally part of the City Football Group … but sometimes you wonder if they have an interest in Celtic buried deep somewhere. That’s where this appointment springs from.
It’s as if we panicked earlier in the week and Harkin said “I know a guy who’ll take the job.”
So it looks like desperation, and it only gets worse when you consider that he knows nothing about the league here or the culture.
Those things ought not to matter to a manager with the right level of experience and gravitas.
Not only does this guy not have that experience, or that pedigree, but this will – mark my words – be used, by the club, as the excuse to retain Kennedy as his assistant and Gavin Strachan and the rest of this failed backroom team on the books.
It also saves us the cost of having to go out and build a new one, which I am certain is one of the paramount considerations here.
He will have no experience in spending money on transfers and no knowledge of the European market, which means that he will have to work from what I am certain is an uninspiring list of cheap options which is already sitting in a drawer somewhere at Celtic Park.
If you think we’re bringing in a guy like this, for whom a job this size is a dream come true and who will not make big demands, a guy who’s never had money to spend, and giving him a bunch of it to rebuild this team you haven’t been paying attention.
So this reconstruction will be done cheap … which means we’re almost certainly looking at another one, and quite possibly an even bigger one, not too far down the line, which is reason enough to be worried.
Last night, even as people were crossing their fingers and saying that surely there would be a big name Plan B, I re-published a piece from a month ago in which I said that if it wasn’t Howe we were looking at a list of dire names from the bottom drawer.
There was no point in hoping for anything else; this is a calamity and we are out of options and out of time.
A panic appointment was a certainty and that’s what this it.
Don’t let anyone kid you on that this is part of a plan.
The club is furiously spinning it as something we had in reserve all along, but you don’t spend months putting together a short-list of the best managers you can get and end up with a guy from the J League.
Nevertheless, you will hear sterling defences of his record in some quarters; it’s already started as people who cannot believe we would appoint such a manager without knowing what we’re doing, in spite of an awesome mountain of evidence that we don’t, try to spin this as some kind of masterstroke, trying to make it sound ambitious and exciting.
Ange Postecoglou has been coaching for 25 years.
He is not an up and comer as Deila was, a guy just making his name. He has spent longer coaching than most of us have spent in our own careers up until now.
Yet he has never been offered a job remotely as big as the Celtic one.
His record is so “impressive” that this will be the first time a European club has taken him on since he was at Panachaiki F.C. in 2008.
He was there only a few months.
Remember, Sevco – at their most shambolic – looked and said “We’ll pass.”
Could we be missing something?
Is it possible that here is the most overlooked guy in football?
A hidden managerial gem, sitting all those years on the shelf?
An undiscovered genius, waiting to be plucked from the league of Japan?
Already numerous people have said to me “What about Wim Jansen?”
My answer to that is, “The guy who had won two Dutch Cups at Feynoord? A European Cup winner as a player, and who had led the team as a manager into the biggest competition in the world? That Wim Jansen? Yeah, I remember him well.”
Here’s how I see it, and where I see the trouble lying.
This man has no experience whatsoever at our level of the game.
He has only basic knowledge of the squad – except for Tom Rogic – and with no serious scouting network in Europe he will be relying on the “suggestions” of the Peter Lawwell scouting department. Who wants to bet on them being worth much?
He will, in a matter of weeks, have to prepare us for a European qualification campaign from a standing start.
He will need to win the respect of a squad which is already reeling from Lennon and Kennedy after a top class coach like Rodgers, a squad which knows he’s a backwater manager in the biggest gig of his life and the second choice at best.
He will need to gain the backing of a support at war with the board and deeply, deeply sceptical of the appointment and with no regard whatsoever for his likely backroom team, which we can predict with grim inevitability although it would, even if the manager were vastly better than this guy, itself be a hugely unpopular and destabilising choice.
He will get no honeymoon period whatsoever thanks to his employers and their incompetence, and his first games will be of enormous importance, with an unprepared team, in a competition we really need to progress in, against a vastly more settled opponent and every likelihood of a major reversal which begins his tenure in the worst possible way.
Even with the best will in the world – and none of us will ever want to see a Celtic manager fail – it is not difficult to see how this could unravel, and unravel quickly, and become another hugely damaging episode.
After the season we’ve just had, the board simply had to get the managerial appointment right.
Not only was the guy to have the right pedigree but his hiring should have been a unifying moment for the club, something that gave the fans confidence that we had learned the lessons from our disastrous mistakes in the past and inspired us for the future.
This is not such an appointment.
It will multiply the doubts and the concerns and the anger and the outside world will not view it with high regard or respect.
The Australian media is cock-a-hoop; they see this as a great breakthrough moment for their national game … they see Celtic and Scottish football as a proving ground for their coaches.
Even to them, this is like a great big fun experiment with Parkhead as the laboratory …
I’m sure from their perspective this is all very exciting, but this is our football club, for God’s sakes, something we love, being degraded and debased and slowly suffocated by its own directors.
It was their job to replace Brendan Rodgers with a candidate of similar calibre; they went for Lennon, who’s record after his first underserved crack at this job was disaster at Bolton and dismissal by Hibs after a highly charged self-detonation.
That was the moment I stopped believing that this board was fit to hold office.
Their mandate was simple; find the best available manager we could to get us to ten in a row and beyond. They didn’t even try, and I know they didn’t try because no serious effort would, in a million years, have concluded with Lennon getting the gig.
I don’t think Eddie Howe was necessarily the best candidate in this case.
Right from the start I was promoting Roberto Martinez, and an ambitious board would at least have asked him the question and made him an offer. I would have put Philip Cocu on the list, as an outstanding coach who has proved as a player and as a manager that he can win things. I would have talked to Laurent Blanc, another proven champion as a player and boss.
You would have hoped we’d talk to Marsch or to one of those guys, the very best up and coming bosses from around Europe, guys blazing a trail at progressive clubs, playing devastating football and impressing the world with their tactical acumen.
Lucien Favre is vastly experienced and tremendously talented, and has coached at the very top level of the game. He has been available on a free this whole time, and the word is that we actually gave him an interview. He would have been an excellent appointment.
But I liked Howe and I wanted Howe and I thought Howe was an excellent fit.
Howe was a choice that seemed not only realistic, but as an up and comer with an excellent track record, he would have ticked all the necessary boxes and brought this club together.
An EPL boss who had worked miracles with a provincial team, he was an outstanding candidate and worth pursuing.
But he was not worth waiting two months for without a cast iron commitment, whether in writing or not, and no halfway competent board of directors anywhere would seriously have entertained the idea of doing so, and especially when their own credibility was already badly damaged and the club was facing a momentous rebuilding job.
Yet we still have a chance to go out and fulfil the mandate; appoint the best possible person for the job.
Time is not our side, but that’s a reality that his board’s incomptence has forced on us.
They will not, now, take the time to find the right person … which is how we’ve ended up here.
Even in the face of this disaster some of the names I’ve already mentioned are still available, and not one of them would be as uninspiring as the guy we look set to hire.
This is the appointment that finally damns these people, one for which they have no defence and no excuse and which the vast, vast majority of the supporters will find incomprehensible in our moment of greatest need.
They got away with Lennon because of his relationship with the club and his past “successes” in the job … I thought it was a scandalous appointment and I was not alone, but the Lennon Cult prevailed and the board escaped scrutiny until it all went wrong.
That appointment was indefensible and this one is indefensible whether it succeeds or not, because in no sane world is this anything other than a momentous risk at a time when we simply can’t afford one of those.
Besides that, the odds are stacked firmly against this working because a guy like this isn’t going to get any benefit of the doubt or time to bed in his own ideas and he’ll need both.
That might be grossly unfair, but it’s the reality of the situation and there’s no point in denying that. On this blog we deal with the world as it is, not as we’d like it to be, and this will be a hugely “controversial” decision and so this house will remain divided and he’s on a hiding to nothing if he doesn’t make an immediate impact.
His own credibility issues will arise, in no small part, from the very legitimate concerns we will all have about how much control he has over signings, scouting and his backroom staff.
No such fears would have existed had we appointed Howe or a candidate with his experience at the top level.
We’re sending an unpopular choice into battle against an Ibrox club which went through the entire league campaign without losing a game. This appointment had to be a slam-dunk and we failed massively.
Sevco’s response to the true Invincible campaign was to compound the disaster they were locked into by sacking Mark Warburton and hiring Caixinha. We’ve neither learned from our own mistakes or from the ones they made.
There is a very good chance that this is our board’s Pedro Caixinha moment.
Do not fool yourselves into thinking that things have to get better.
We’re on the brink of appointing the guy who finished ninth in the Japanese league in his last campaign.
The reality of this needs to start sinking in.
We’ve gone from Brendan Rodgers to Ange Postecoglou in little over two years.
Do not kid yourself about the direction of travel here.
If nothing else is clear to you, that at least should be obvious.