Eddie Howe, Fergal Harkin, Ange Postecoglou and the Celtic circus

The clownshow that Celtic’s pursuit of a manager became last week was entirely the responsibility of the club’s board. Yet, the collapsible car in which they are driving their supporters to distraction is constructed of disparate parts.

Celtic remain managerless almost four months on from Neil Lennon's departure. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Celtic remain managerless almost four months on from Neil Lennon's departure. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

As second choice Ange Postecoglou is now firmly in the frame to be appointed to the role, it is instructive to reverse back almost four months when preferred candidate Eddie Howe’s name gained traction. Word filtered back through various circles the Englishman was firmly interested in the Celtic job, but, crucially, would make no decision until the summer. And that his ideal was returning to the game with one of the mid-ranking English Premier League clubs expected to be seeking a new manager come the close season.

Those caveats immediately seemed to preclude Celtic being able to cut a deal for Howe, since there appeared no way they could leave themselves a hostage to fortune for a full three months with Neil Lennon having departed in the closing week of February.

However, when news of productive talks with Howe leaked out, the reaction from Celtic fans was one of universal elation. A constituency then in the mood to blame their board for the heavens opening owing to the countless calamities that crumbled their 10-in-a-row bid suddenly were wholly on-side with these powerbrokers for the rarest of occasions.

From the outside, this would seem to have been the genesis for the Celtic board to continue careering down the wrong track with horns honking and water-buckets splashing - as they have since last summer. In a desperate desire to serve up a man that would see them slapped on the back as opposed to pied in the face, they found themselves in a bind. One created by their willingness to accept Howe’s verbal pledge that he would come to Glasgow as “sufficient comfort”...for days, then weeks, then months. Only for him to jilt them at the altar, for reasons still not entirely transparent or believable - his failure to be able to recruit the full backroom team he wanted from Bournemouth not cutting it on either front.

The Celtic board have now been accused of all sorts of other pratfalls, with the tiresome moans about lack of communication and contemptible treatment at odds with the saga having highlighted the perils inherent with negotiations and targets entering the public domain. They are now getting it in the neck for Fergal Harkin not arriving as director of football, despite it emerging he was never seriously considered for the position. Running commentaries don’t work in this febrile world, but in Celtic’s world their absence is reason for the club’s fans to flog those in charge.

None of which isn’t to say that the current situation - which is likely to see supporters lining up to throw wet sponges in the direction of poor Postecoglou should he sign on as a coach arguably of greater pedigree than Howe - is other than a shambles.

Yet, for all the present board are presented as particularly boo-hiss, Celtic have made a circus out of selecting managers countless times over the past 40 years. Objectively, in terms of choices and methodology, they have been more wrong than right, only to get away with some slapdash decision-making on occasion. Luck, though, runs out.

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