As everything else crumbles around them, the prospect of a new manager arriving in the summer is a small light at the end of the tunnel for Celtic.
The fact that Neil Lennon is still in a job is nigh on miraculous, but even miracles have their limits, and after this season is over and done with, the Irishman will surely be disposed of.
This campaign has been a disaster of epic proportions, and the scars of it will be felt decades down the line. They were within a season of immortality, but we’re halfway through January and it has all gone to hell.
But while the task of picking up the pieces isn’t an enviable one, it still has its pull. Way out at the front of the queue, if reports are to be believed, is former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe.
This time a year ago, the idea that Howe could ever be managing in Scotland would have seemed fanciful at best. Even after he was dismissed by Bournemouth in the summer, it was thought he could take his pick of Premier League jobs. But over time, his stock has cooled, and a move to Parkhead for the former EFL Manager of the Decade is seeming like a more and more realistic prospect.
Of the two big questions that remain over his viability, one of them is fairly easy to answer.
Would be be interested? Of course he would.
Mark Burchill, who worked under Howe at Bournemouth, basically said as much, and the reasons for that are obvious. A massive club, in need of a top-to-bottom rebuild, with the platform to get him back to where he wants to be. Howe isn’t arrogant enough to rule out Celtic before giving it some serious thought.
The other question, though, isn’t as cut and dry.
Would he be a good fit? Well…
At face value, sure. He ticks most of the boxes. An exciting, young manager? Check. Track record of building from the ground up? Check. Long-term appointment? Check. Not Neil Lennon? Check, check, check and check.
None of that, though, guarantees success. For while Howe is a high calibre coach with credentials that frame him as something of a no-brainer, managing on either side of the Old Firm divide is like almost nothing else in football.
Par for the course of managing Celtic is handling pressure. It doesn’t matter how well you’re doing, you are only ever a bad result or two away from being put under the microscope. That’s why good managers, such as Ronny Deila, have failed, while inexperienced coaches with the right mentality – such as Steven Gerrard – have hit the ground running.
There is a big question mark over Howe, fresh off a year out of work having walked away from a job so safe that even relegation didn’t prompt the board to sack him.
He had earned that, of course, by single-handedly taking Bournemouth from League One to the Premier League and keeping them there. He’d need to quickly learn how to operate without that security: something he may relish, but may not be prepared for.
He would need to prove, and prove fast, that he can adapt to winning trophies on a regular basis. And that’s far more difficult than it looks…even at Celtic.
Yet just because he hasn’t proven he has the cutthroat mentality for the top job at Parkhead doesn’t mean he lacks it. Brendan Rodgers was a screaming success despite having never won a trophy prior to his move to Glasgow, and you could argue that sustained silverware at Bournemouth was never in question.
Howe may have something within him that only a job like Celtic could unlock.
On balance, then, many would advise them that it’s a risk worth taking. But it’s down to the Parkhead board to make the call.
Get it wrong? They’re back where they started a year down the line, while Rangers continue to pull away.
Get it right? Well, 2021/22 could be the most memorable season of the SPFL era.