How simple it all must have looked back in the summer when Eddie Howe’s advisers told Celtic that he wouldn’t be taking the job at Parkhead.
All he had do was wait and the offers from England would come flooding in. He reckoned without the shattering damage that decision did to his reputation.
Months on, managers in the top flight have fallen at the usual steady rate, and Spurs just appointed their second manager in that time.
“Steady Eddie” has yet to find gainful employment. It may come if Dean Smith is removed from his role at Aston Villa, although rumours abound that Paolo Fonseca quite fancies that after the Newcastle one went south.
Yet even if Howe were the front runner there, would any manager have chosen that job over a title crack and European football at Celtic Park?
If Howe could turn the clock back, would he make a different choice? We’ll never know. The chances are, we’ll be happy with how this turned out.
There’s a different question here; did we actually escape a nasty surprise?
It can’t just have been his failure to come to Celtic which made English clubs wary of him; that played a part, sure, but the mere act of turning us down couldn’t have pushed him to the bottom of every wanted list unless real doubts already existed south of the border.
So what was the issue? You may as well ask the clubs in England, few of whom were exactly queuing up to take a punt on him even before we came calling. The idea sounded good, on paper, and indeed the club itself was convinced by it, and we made our move and tried to make it happen … but we had surprisingly little competition for his signature.
So what the Hell was it?
Howe had only managed a handful of clubs, but with Bournemouth at least he had achieved great success.
But at what cost? Some were fond of pointing out that his team was one of the highest spending sides in the league. Others pointed to some of the footballers he had bought, and posed serious questions about his judgement.
The press down there still sort of thinks highly of him, but this isn’t reciprocated in the boardrooms. He is linked with every open job there is south of the border; it’s just not actually clear that any of the clubs has ever been terribly interested in him.
He might appear on the candidates lists, but he doesn’t seem to get close to landing anything.
By the time the shortlists are drawn up, Howe isn’t on any of them.
This has to make him second guess what happened at Parkhead, because there is no doubt that if he’d come up here and been able to work some magic that his prospects would have been greatly enhanced in doing so.
That he seemed to wait until the last minute before bottling it has, curiously, damaged him more than it damaged us, but if the lack of interest in him is anything to go by it might be that there are even bigger reasons for us feeling a stab of relief.
What do they know down there that we didn’t beforehand?
Without a doubt, the manner in which he reversed himself on the Celtic job – he told many of his media pals in England that he was on the way to Scotland – clearly played into a perception that already existed down there; Not So Steady Eddie, maybe, and the only way he’ll fix it is by performing well in another post.
Getting it will be the hard part, and so far no-one seems keen to offer him a shot at it.
It may well be that’s there’s more to it than meets the eye.
We may have dodged the bullet here.