Crystal Palace have announced that Roy Hodgson, the 73-year-old darling of Selhurst Park, is to leave the English Premier League club at the end of the current season.
This news is not a surprise. Rumours have swirled for some time that Hodgson would depart, almost for as long as Eddie Howe has been linked with the Celtic hotseat since Neil Lennon vacated it in late February.
Former Bournemouth manager Howe is the hot favourite to succeed Lennon, yet official confirmation has yet to arrive. Speculation has been rife as to what the delay is, with one of the more plausible explanations being that the wait is due to current Cherries assistant and likely Celtic No.2 Stephen Purches still being involved at the coalface as Bournemouth look to negotiate the Championship play-offs.
Celtic are currently in cruise control with the Howe situation – but will today’s news make them press the accelerator a little harder?
Palace fish in the same pond as Celtic when it comes to managers. While Celtic – and no disrespect to Palace here – soar far higher in terms of reputation to the Eagles, the finances are in favour of the south London club. They have much more resources, more clout, and are an established top-flight EPL outfit.
Howe has spent most of his life on the south coast and moving to London would result in far less upheaval in a family sense. Palace have opened a new state-of-the-art academy in Beckenham, chairman Steve Parish plans to give his new man a £50million transfer kitty and there are some exciting young players to work with such as Eberechi Eze and Tyrick Mitchell. Much like Celtic, though, a rebuild is needed. Twelve senior players are out of contract. Palace could easily find themselves battling in the nether regions of the league unless shrewd recruitment happens.
Celtic’s stature and the lure of European football – a stage Howe has yet to grace – balance out the financial discrepancies. Plus, in Glasgow, Howe would be fighting for titles, not preserving a club’s position in the league. Then there has to be the question of whether Palace actually really want Howe, and whether he really wants Palace? Sure, his name has been mentioned on the messageboards and in the press, but his last act in the EPL was to relegate Bournemouth and Palace were badly stung the last time they went for a young, highly progressive manager in former Rangers defender Frank de Boer, whose tenure in 2017 lasted just ten weeks and nearly ruined the club. And would Howe really want a similar job to Bournemouth when the taste buds can be tantalised by trophies north of the border?
Former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, who was sacked by the Stamford Bridge hierarchy without doing too much wrong, is the warm favourite with the oddsmen at 8/11. Howe comes in at 8/1. Burnley manager Sean Dyche is another name in the mix, a more experienced hand at the tiller who is understandably considering what life away from Turf Moor must look like.
Palace are unlikely to be a serious threat to Celtic’s pursuit of Howe, but what today’s news about Hodgson does is sets the management merry-go-round in motion.