The Sunday Post (Newcastle)
Just Howe will Celtic find another Brendan Rodgers?
Early chat about the favourite to be named the 19th different permanent manager of Celtic centred on his similarities to the man who was No. 18.
The key word being “different” – repeats count as one.
It is not Neil Lennon who Eddie Howe naturally compares to, but Brendan Rodgers, whose successladen spell was sandwiched between Lennon’s two separate stints in charge.
Dermot Desmond, the club’s majority shareholder, pushed the boat out financially in enticing Rodgers – the man who so nearly won the English Premier League with Liverpool – up to Scotland.
The reward – an immediate Invincible season, followed up a domestic monopoly of the available trophies that lasted until his departure in 2019 – was better than the Irish businessman could have hoped for.
It is unsurprising, therefore, that when looking for someone to rebuild the squad to try to capture a title next season that will carry with it automatic Champions League qualification and a purse of £30-million, Rodgers remains the ideal by which all candidates are judged.
And in this respect, Howe appeals as being the closest you can get to Brendan.
Both are workaholic fortysomethings, who have demonstrated conspicuous ability in their chosen profession.
Through their success, both have experienced what it is like to be touted as the brightest prospect in English football.
Yet, somewhat inevitably given the job, each has become linked to a Celtic Park vacancy at a time when they are out of work.
The difference is Rodgers accepted the Parkhead opportunity almost immediately.
Reports suggest Howe continues to prevaricate, despite being out of work before Neil Lennon left Celtic, and having had an audience with Desmond to discuss the position.
Howe’s CV might have a required a little polishing, given Bournemouth’s relegation to the Championship at the end of the Covid-interrupted 2019-20 campaign.
But what lay beneath was plenty shiny enough.
His achievement in guiding the club from the fourth tier of the English game up to the top-flight in seven years – and that includes a stint with Burnley – was remarkable.
The problem for Celtic is that, just like the 18th permanent manager, he needs no telling that he is good at what he does.
On arriving in Glasgow, Rodgers gave a PowerPoint presentation to all his players, in which key words were emphasised, which he later shared with the media as an insight into his methodology.
If they were a little predictable – SUCCESS, ATTITUDE and DRIVE being the kind of ones that qualified – Rodgers was unapologetic.
Accentuating the positive had, he said, made him a multi-millionaire, and helped many players achieve their ambitions.
People could be cynical all they liked – but the results spoke for themselves.
Howe’s confidence that he would be able to not only close the gap with Rangers, but also overtake them, can be taken for granted.
What is up for debate is just how much the prospect actually appeals to him.
He will be certain he is capable of doing a more than decent job at an English Premier League club, be it Newcastle United, Crystal Palace, Southampton or any other who may be looking for a new manager.
Celtic fans could argue none of the names mentioned would offer anything like the opportunity and experience he could get by choosing to follow in the footsteps of Jock Stein, Martin O’Neill and, yes, Brendan Rodgers.
The statue of Billy McNeill lifting the European Cup that stands on the Celtic Way is an ever-present reminder of past success.
Yet if supporters believe the job should sell itself, Howe has clearly felt able to delay when a quick acceptance would have been the polite thing to do.
Of course, there will have been side issues to debate regarding his assistants, the structure he would operate under and the amount of money available to spend.
However, his caution contrasts sharply with the enthusiasm shown by Rodgers when leaving Celtic for Leicester City two years ago.
Having overseen victory against Motherwell on the Sunday, he was photographed suited and booted at Leicester’s game on the Tuesday night
If the haste of his departure was insensitive to the feelings of those he was leaving behind, it at least showed his eagerness to get cracking on the big job that lay in front of him.
Can we say the same about Eddie Howe?
The difference is Rodgers accepted the Parkhead chance almost immediately