Eddie Howe set for Celtic - and why John Kennedy is right for director of football role
The Eddie Howe era as Celtic manager is inching ever closer.
It now seems firmly a matter of when rather than if in respect of the 43-year-old taking the reins at the Parkhead club. The unknowns appear to concern the backroom team he will seek to work alongside him. And, inevitably, the old chestnut as to who will fill the newly-created director of football post.
Howe is believed to be keen to bring in his own coaching staff. Meanwhile, the endless speculation as to the reason for the hold up in white smoke appearing over Celtic Park to announce his arrival seems as if it could have been misplaced.
It has been stated that the reluctance of the Celtic board to allow the Englishman effectively to appoint his own director of football in Richard Hughes, who currently occupies this role for his former club Bournemouth, was a sticking point. Not least because Celtic had earmarked Manchester City’s football partnerships and pathway’s manager Fergal Harkin for the role. A position that the club, in the interests of long-term continuity, do not want to be only as secure as the tenure of the person taking charge of the team.
Now, after all the conjecture, it appears that Hughes isn’t sold on leaving behind his life, and his homestead, in the south of England to work at the club he grew up supporting. This scenario would seem to, if you will, create a pathway for Harkin to be installed. Not so fast, though.
The soundings taken by Howe as he investigated whether the Celtic job was right for him are understood to have involved lengthy conversations with former manager Brendan Rodgers, whom Howe has previously credited with providing instructive pointers in his early days in charge at Bournemouth.
Rodgers, it is believed, has offered a few more about a structure that could prove advantageous to him in Glasgow. The principal one seems to have been recommending that the perfect candidate for director of football is already in the employ of Celtic, with the Irishman forwarding the case for John Kennedy being a man with whom he would work well.
Kennedy’s credentials for the post would appear undeniable. His current stint in interim charge, which is approaching the two-month mark, follows on from six-and-a-half years in the first-team backroom staff. More than anyone, the 37-year-old knows both the set-up and the type of player Celtic must attract to pick themselves off the canvas they have been face-down on for so much of this desperate barren season.
Results may have been dreadfully patchy under him. However, Kennedy has demonstrated an intelligence and understanding of what is required at a club for which he cares deeply and has served for 23 years that doesn’t warrant his discarding. Especially when his experience sees him perfectly placed to provide Howe with a crucial bridge between two eras, without being seen as a hangover from the old one courtesy of operating in a more detached role.
A faction among the Celtic support seek a scorched earth policy when it comes to all those they hold responsible for the abject failure to claim a record 10th straight title. This band might ponder that Rodgers’ outstanding success in Scotland was built on generating improvement from within more than relying on outside reinforcements.
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