It was little over three weeks ago that we were looking forward to the announcement of Celtic’s new team with great enthusiasm. The article this site published was the most optimistic since the start of the ten campaign.
At that point we looked as if we were about to appoint a director of football and a brand new coaching team.
Eddie Howe was to be the poster bhoy for a new era.
Today we’ve announced the hiring of an Australian with a handful of titles in his native land, one as manager of a club in Japan, some minor successes as an Australian international youth boss and an Asian Cup as boss of the full national team.
He has no coaching staff. Two of the men most directly associated with last year’s failure will be retained. He has no support network above him because we have yet to hire the director of football. He is at least a week from being able to set foot in the UK because of quarantine issues and he does not hold a UEFA Pro License.
Ange Postecoglou departs his last club having finished 9th in the league last season.
They presently sit at third. Yesterday they were knocked of the Emperors Cup by a side three divisions below them. His appointment appears to have been sold on the basis of his philosophy of the game.
His appointment is the biggest managerial risk this club has taken in more than three decades.
It is a mere 28 months since one of the best coaches in Europe sat in our dugout; at that time, we were a club that appeared to have a broad, sweeping plan for the future.
Even if this colossally risky experiment proves to be successful, in even attempting it this board has revealed its gross irresponsibility, its absence of a clear vision and it’s appalling lack of ambition.
We had all of football to choose from, and over 100 days to get the appointment right.
We have appointed a manager with a 25-year history in the game who has never coached outside of Asia or Oceania. He has no experience of the pressures or expectations of European football. He has never operated in the transfer market. He has never had to build a football team. He will be supervised from above and key decisions made “on his behalf” from people who shouldn’t be anywhere near the football department at Celtic Park.
It is Dominic McKay, not Peter Lawwell, who is at the forefront of this announcement; McKay’s statement takes the responsibility for it.
It’s either a brave decision or a monumentally stupid one, but a lot of people who view this appointment as folly now have good reasons to wonder about his own judgement. It wasn’t enough that this board tainted itself further with this incomprehensible risk, but they have now potentially toxified the new CEO before he even formally steps into his post.
His talk of helping the manager identify signings shows that we have not actually learned a single thing from the decade or more of Peter Lawwell’s interference in matters about which he is not in the least bit qualified. McKay, similarly, has no experience of picking footballers and ought to be in the background as professional people get on with doing that job.
But of course, having no head of recruitment, no director of football and very little in the scouting department, the structure in which those professionals would be working simply does not exist.
For the board to have failed even to put that in place is unforgivable.
They have appointed a manager who is a total stranger to the European game without any of the network above him which he will clearly require in order to succeed. It is disgraceful.
This is not the day of triumph we had hoped the appointment of a new manager would be.
Our club has embarked on a perilous course, creating greater uncertainty and instability. The appointment of a new manager with fresh ideas and a new outlook for the club should be a moment of celebration, but this one isn’t and the last managerial announcement was.
The people who run Celtic have had 106 days since Neil Lennon was sacked. Longer if you consider that it had been inevitable for many months before. They’ve had even longer to find a director of football.
The job isn’t even half done, but the most important role has been filled.
If only they had treated it that way, and appointed the best candidate they could get.
Celtic’s board can be accused of many things, but they cannot, today, be accused of playing it safe.
This is a breathtakingly risky decision, and totally un-necessary. There were any number of more suitable candidates out there, and many of them had expressed an interest in the role.
Our club is rotting from the top down.
Today simply proves that this is where the real changes have to start.
This is not a new beginning, it is the continuation of short-term thinking, a lack of strategic vision, the downsizing of our ambitions and the moment when the board stopped even pretending that it can act in the best interests of this institution.
The need for fresh thinking at the very top of our house has never been clearer.
Today is not a day for celebration, but determination and clarity of thinking.
Those of us who believe that Celtic should be more than this, should be better than this, have as much work to do as those inside the walls who have taken this reckless gamble.
It must be their last.