CELTIC manager-in-waiting Eddie Howe won’t know what hit him when he takes over at Parkhead.
That’s the forthright view of former Hoops midfielder Kris Commons who warns the supporters the Englishman is “not the Messiah”.
Howe is on the brink of being named successor to Neil Lennon who departed the club in February in the midst of a failed bid to guide the team to a tenth successive title during a wretched campaign at home and in Europe.
Commons is convinced the ex-Bournemouth chief, who has been out of work since quitting the south coast club in August, is about to discover a whole new ball game awaits him in the east end of Glasgow.
The one-time Scotland international playmaker, writing in his Daily Mail column, states: “Howe is not the Messiah in the way Martin O’Neill was. Nor is he Brendan Rodgers, who revelled in the limelight from the moment he arrived
“O’Neill and Rodgers were forces of nature throughout their time in Glasgow. Their personality and weight of character always gave them a chance of succeeding.
FAN-FARE…Brendan Rodgers holds aloft a Celtic scarf as he is welcomed to Parkhead in May 2016.
WELCOME TO CELTIC…Brendan Rodgers waves to the Hoops fans on the day of his announcement as new manager.
“Howe, by contrast, seems more reserved. He is articulate, but softly spoken. It is difficult to imagine him holding court in the dressing room in the same way O’Neill or Rodgers did.
“On the day Rodgers was unveiled, 13,000 fans were there in Celtic Park to greet him. He was an instant hero.
“Howe was managing a club whose home ground only holds 11,000 fans. More people turned out to see Rodgers parade a Celtic scarf above his head than can fit inside Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium.
“This is not meant to sound flippant. Just an indication of the reality into which Howe is about to be thrust. It will be an almighty culture shock.”
Commons, now a top media pundit, continued: “Howe’s CV isn’t even in the same league as Rodgers’ when he took the job at Parkhead.
“Rodgers had come within a whisker of winning a Premier League title at Liverpool. He had managed superstars such as Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard and got them playing great football.
“He had managed in the Champions League. He knew what it felt like to compete at the elite level. Howe has never managed a European game in his life. Admittedly, neither had Gerrard prior to taking the Rangers job. But he knew what it felt like to be immersed in a huge club.
“Gerrard carried that weight of expectation on his shoulders for almost 20 years at Liverpool. He drove the club on almost single-handedly to win a Champions League title.
WE’RE RIGHT BEHIND YOU, MARTIN…Celtic boss Martin O’Neill had a great rapport with the Hoops fans.
“The highlight of Howe’s managerial career to date has been a ninth-placed finish in the Premier League in 2017.”
The former Hoops fans’ favourite added: “He deserves credit for getting a club of such modest stature into the top flight in the first place and keeping them there for five seasons.
“But spare me the notion it was some sort of miracle. It wasn’t quite the fairytale some would have you believe.
“Throughout their rise up the leagues, Bournemouth were lavishly funded by a Russian billionaire.
“In season 2014/15, when promoted to the top flight, they were found to have breached Financial Fair Play rules and were subsequently fined £4.75million.
“During five years in the Premier League under Howe, Bournemouth had a net spend of just over £135million.
“That put them on a par with Chelsea during that same period. Liverpool and Spurs both had a net spend of just over £90million in those same years.
“The idea that Howe worked miracles on a tight budget is a myth. He spent a fortune and often squandered it on poor players.”
Hardly a ringing endorsement of Howe’s abilities from Commons which merely adds to the intrigue of what the 43-year-old coach can bring to Celtic with a monumental rebuild job facing them in the summer.
To help put things in place, Domic McKay is expected to be put in place tomorrow – THREE months earlier than anticipated – as the club’s new chief executive.
Peter Lawwell, who has held the post since 2003, announced his retirement from the role in January, but will be there until the end of June to work alongside the ex-Scotland Rugby Union chief and ease him into the position.