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Celtic board can't afford another mistake

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Jim Spence | 09:18 UK time, Saturday, 27 March 2010

The Celtic board took the plaudits for previous good appointments, now they must accept the brickbats for hiring Tony Mowbray.

Neil Lennon is now in pole position for the Celtic job: a good run to the end of season and securing the Scottish Cup may be enough to land him the job permanently.

The Celtic board know Lennon's qualities well.

But how well did they know Mowbray before handing him the reins of one of football's most demanding jobs?

What was the recruitment process that saw them hire a manager from a club which he had relegated from the English Premier League?

Former Celtic manager Tony MowbrayMowbray is a thoroughly decent man, but that isn't a pre-requisite of being a manager of a top club.

In the business world, psychometric testing and a battery of other measurements are used to objectively quantify a candidate's suitability for a top job.

So why did the Celtic board get this appointment so spectacularly wrong?

I was driving down to a match at Falkirk on a snow-driven, sleet-slinging day, watching three council workers, chilled to the bone, clearing the litter from the motorway embankments when I heard Tony Mowbray tell Sportsound listeners that he didn't enjoy managing Celtic.

Here were three guys working in gruelling conditions for a comparative pittance, while the manager of one of our great football clubs appeared to dismiss the privilege of managing a side renowned throughout the world.

From sombre media conferences to downbeat post match interviews, a picture was being painted of a man who would rather be anywhere else than in the Celtic hotseat.

So, why did the board get it so badly wrong and what will they do this time to get it right?

Chief Executive Peter Lawwell has done a sterling job over the years, building up the season book base and marketing the club.

Now though, attendances are sliding dramatically and those season books need to be renewed during a recession.

Celtic's football has been slapdash and uninspiring, not a recipe for luring the faithful back in numbers for next season.

The club's supporters have high expectations and they pay good money to have them fulfilled.

Dermot Desmond, John Reid and the chief executive now need to outline a vision for the Hoops fans which is not airy fairy or pie in the sky, but real and tangible.

Failure to do so will see Celtic fans asking why it's only the manager who has departed.

In football, it's not just the manager who is expected to deliver constantly; it also applies to the board.

The latest blog from Celtic Quick News asks many pertinent questions about the methodology of appointing a new manager and offers sound advice on some of the pitfalls to avoid.

The blog offers the following timely advice to the Celtic board: "There are important criteria to measure a candidate against: Does he improve players? Does he improve teams (Tony left Hibs where he found them, 8th in the table, and did the same with West Brom)?

"Can he cope playing in Europe as well as domestically? Each of the above are objectively verifiable. While they are not the only criteria we can use, they are the most important and should be considered deal-breakers."

The Celtic board could do worse than heed the advice of their own fans.

Had they appointed the right candidate last time round, and given him a respectable budget, they could have blown great rivals Rangers out of the water for the foreseeable future; in the process going on to ensure a Champions league berth.

Now they have to consider the albeit slim possibility, that third-placed Dundee United, a club with about a 15th of their budget, could pip them to second spot in the SPL.

Neil Lennon might well be the man for the job this time around, but the Celtic board owe it to the supporters to be rigorous in their approach to getting the right man.

Issues like being "Celtic-minded" shouldn't cut any ice in making the decision - that would be a bonus - but not crucial.

The Parkhead board have to get this one right or they too, like their newly-departed manager, will face serious questions from fans who will not be in a mood to forgive another poor appointment.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    It's a crucial time for Celtic football club, I feel.

    If they don't get back on even footing with Rangers soon, we could see the Blue side of Glasgow dominate for the foreseeable future, given the single Champions League place.

    A lot of responsibility lies with the board for their decision here.

  • Comment number 2.

    hi jim

    i think its got to be remembered that most celtic fans were unanimous in their approval of the appointment of mowbray. even though his previous teams were not exactly successful, they did play good, attractive football. now, with the money he had to spend at celtic and the quality of the teams he would be vying against you would have hoped he could have built a team capable of, at least, dominating the scottish game, whilst playing 'the celtic way'.

    i dont necessarilly think the board got this one wrong. i think tony mowbray totally underestimated what it takes to be a celtic manager and for a myriad of reasons he just didn't cut it in the east end of glasgow. surely, the board must be commended for the speedy removal of the previous management team. it wasn't working - they acted swiftly. it must have been a pretty penny they paid when terminating tony and his staffs' contracts ( aswell as the compensation paid to middlesbrough to get them).

    the only person to blame for celtics shocking season is tony mowbray. some of his decisions have, frankly, beggered belief. his line-up's, tactics, signings, interviews have all at times left the fans scratching their heads in disbelief. i'm no football expert and while i totally appreciate its a game about opinions, some of tony's decisions this season have been wrong, pure and simple.

    scott brown as captain. eh? selling robson, macdonald and loaning out the club captain macmanus. whit? playing with six strikers on the pitch at the one time. you must be joking! these are just a few examples that any football fan of average intelligence would instinctively know where not the right thing to do.

    i dont think anyone could have forseen the disaster that lay in wait when tony mowbray arrived, but it's over now. thank god!

  • Comment number 3.

    Is it a measurable level of how bad the SPL has become, that a decent Dundee Utd side are still trailing one of the worst Celtic sides of the last ten years by 8 points?

    The so called bookies favourites however don't seem like the right people for Celtic ast the moment. I know Lambert is doing well, and I'm sure in time he could be a great Celtic coach, but its experiance that's needed. I wouldn't be surprised if Celtic go abroad, following the likes of Man City and Chelsea. Although the board would have to stump up for someone like that.

  • Comment number 4.

    Agree with the two comments above. There wasn't much criticism of the Mowbray appointment from any quarter: he had a record of attacking football, spotting and developing young players, building teams; had a previous connection with the club; and was portrayed in large sections of the media as a 'master tactician and man-manager'. The board also bowed to the criticism of fans who wanted investment last season and furnished TM with resources so I feel your implicit criticism of them is somewhat unfounded. As a board they backed him when things were tough and there was an understanding from a large section of the support that his expansive approach would reap benefits later on.

    The real question is how can so many in so many quarters (fans, ex-players, media and numerous so-called football experts) have got it so wrong? I don't think they did with what they knew at the time and in the time they had available to make an appointment last summer: the Celtic job was simply a step up too far for TM and few people saw it coming.

    And do you really believe that Dermot Desmond will be waiting on the advice of the Celtic Quick News (renowned experts of course in managerial appointments)? I think it will be fairly obvious to the board what they need in a big football post. The advantage Celtic have this time round is 'time' before the start of next season.

  • Comment number 5.

    Mowbray's track record was there for all to see. The problem was they wanted someone who palpably wasn't Gordon Strachan.

    All the crap about being one of the Celtic family and being Celtic minded led to this, in many ways Mowbray was an appointment to appease the fans, emotion played a part in this.

    Also he was at least third choice, probably fourth. There was a also an element of panic. What Celtic need now is a period of stability. They need someone to do the same for them as Water Smith did following Le Guen.

    They need a safe pair of hands for a couple of seasons. Trouble is they will find it hard to find such a person. It must also be accepted that neither of the old firm is quite as pum a job as it used to be.

  • Comment number 6.

    Interesting Celtic Quick News blog link.

    Especially the part stating that fans of a manager's old/current club should be consulted.

    I remember many Celtic fans on the BBC 606 boards being mixed to disappointed that Celtic could not do better in settling for Mowbray, then rooting for him once the season started.

    But many West Brom fans at the time did not rate him at all and warned that he would serve no good.

    An excellent blog article and the Celtic Quick News blog was also very good.

  • Comment number 7.

    im a Rangers fan

    I think its fantastic :) We have NO money, we havent brought in players in over a year and we are still the best team in Scotland :)

    Happy Days

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm sorry, Jim, because usually you're right on the nose, but do you really? really? really? have to perpetuate this never ending myth that the Celtic manager's job is a "big job"?
    I thought better of you.
    Bigger than what exactly?
    Managing someone like Wigan? Mibbes, and only just.

  • Comment number 9.

    As a diehard Celtic fan, this has been a tough season to endure. Constant failure, giving 3 points away when in the last 10 minutes of games, for all his faults, Gordon Strachan at least had the Bhoys mentally prepared for 95 minutes, under Mogga, we were lucky to get concentration for 45 minutes.

    I thought it was a cracking appointment when it was announced, but a mere 9 months later and you ask the vast majority of Celtic fans, we're more than happy to see him go.

    To visit St. Mirren, and lose 4-0, is simply not acceptable, poor man management, tactics & a lack of confidence was obvious. It was time for Mowbray & his Motley Crew to go.

    As for Lenny, he's a great choice for the final 10 games (or 9 as it is now). Having been pushed aside & even banned from travelling with the team on the bus, this man is a Celtic Legend. No Legend of a club should be treated like that, especially not when said player is more passionate about the club than the gaffer & his 2 gophers. Passion & desire is all we want from a Lennon-run team, and by god we'll get it. If anyone can motivate the players it's Lennon, and if we remain unbeaten in the last 10/9 games, AND win the Scottish Cup, the job HAS to go to him, with Johan Mjallby as his Assistant (if only Mjally could put a shirt on and walk onto the pitch, considering we've very few DC's he'd be a welcome addition)

    It's nice to see 2 former players take the reigns in Lennon & Mjallby, though we must not forget that Mowbray & Grant also played for us. The difference is attitude, Lennon expects 110%, Mowbray didn't seem interested.

    The Board aren't to blame in appointing Mowbray, what other choices did we have? Owen Coyle said no, Roberto Martinez (who I though was far too inexperienced, and he's proven it with Wigan) said no, and our 3rd choice, who'd just been Relegated from the EPL said Yes! Of course he did! Think of the money he'd have got in his wage, the money on players that he wasted (and the fact he sold 8 first-team squad players in one month) and the fact is that Mowbray, is a failure . . .

    The Board do have a big decision to make. We know Lambo (Paul Lambert, Norwich City Manager) has said no due to the usual "Goldfish Bowl" comparisons, and we can't afford a top name Manager, why not give tje Lennon/Mjallby duo a chance? Maybe further down the line we'll see a certain Mr. Larsson come "home", and I do mean down the line, say another 5 years or so, learns his apprenticeship in Sweden before taking over the Manager's position at the Club that helped turn him into a Worldwide-known Legend.

    It's nice to look at yesterday's game and see how we could well have won by more than the 3-1 scoreline, but 3 points was the main aim and we easily accomplished that!

    Just another 27pts & a Cup Semi-Final against Ross County (and hopefully the Final too) for Lennon & Mjallby to prove their worth.

    Hail! Hail!
    YNWA

  • Comment number 10.

    Lennon's appointment was made to appease the disgruntled fans,and of course to put bums on seats,season tickets are up for re-newal,he's in a no lose situation,he wins the Scottish Cup and has a good run and finishes second,the fans are happy with him,possible new manager,he fails to win the Cup and slips up,and finishes third,the fans will say he gave it his best shot ,but was'nt experienced enough,he'll still be a legend,as most Celtic fans I know put the blame firmly at the doors of Lawwell and Reid,conning the fans,with so called fables,Holy Willies,conspiracy theories,secret SFA meetings,pitch complaints,secret inside sources,Referees,all this as a smokescreen for their own and Mowbray's failures,it's not just a new management team that's needed,the men at the top need to be replaced as well,as a Rangers fan I hope they stay,and continue their sterling work for the benefit of Rangers FC.

  • Comment number 11.

    I have no allegiance to either old firm team but do have management recruitment experience. Jim Spence is correct when he states exactly what Tony Mowbray had achieved in management positions before this appointment. The answer is exactly nothing, no progress whatsoever. He had no European experience and whether Celtic are a "big club" to manage or not they would expect to be at the group stages of Champions League EVERY season. If they set their sights lower then does it matter who comes in? For these reasons alone Mr Mowbray should never have been on any list for the job never mind a short list. For the same reason Neil Lennon is not a credible candidate this time round although I suspect the now perilous financial situation and the Board's small time thinking may produce this appointment. If so, Celtic Football Club are seriously in grave danger of becoming an Aberdeen ie mid league at best.

    For the sake of Scottish football I do hope that some professional decision making comes to the fore. The question is do the present board members have those skills?

  • Comment number 12.

    Celtic fans have got exactly what they deserve.

    You hounded Gordon Strachan out of the club, who had won trophy after trophy. Not 'the Celtic way', whatever thats supposed to mean! You were successful, now you aren't, but at least you are unsuccessful the "Celtic way". Laughable.

    Scottish fans have serious issues. Aberdeen fans hounded out Calderwood and now will do the same to McGhee, because he's not 'Aberdeen enough' for their likings. Saying that, we English fans have this problem too. Actually, football fans in general are idiots when it comes to being sentimental.

    My club Leeds made McAllister manager - that worked didnt it! What had he done before? Nothing, and he did the same at Leeds. We had the likes of Billy Bremner, Eddie Gray as our manager - all failed. Howard Wilkinson was a huge success and had no connections with the club.

    Do we really believe any manager would or could give any more just because they are supporters of the team they manage? Was Alex Ferguson die hard Man Utd? Was Mourinho die hard Chelsea?

    Its short sighted and normally i believe a manager with no previous connections to the club will fare better than a sentimental appointment

  • Comment number 13.

    Its no secret the the Celtic board has for years been milking the Celtic support of their hard earned cash. But to be fair its one of the hardest jobs in football and has become a poisioned chalise of a job. The expectation of the supporters will crush any chance of longterm success as incoming managers will not have time to shape a side for sustained success.

    Celtic are in grave danger of going back to the 90's. back in that time the club was on its knees, hours from going bankrupt, crippled with the child abuse scandals from jim torbetts era, dwindling attendances before Fergus Mcgann saved the club in the 11th hour.

    The club has done well to build from that time and became successful but such is the state of Scottish football you are never that far away from crisis at the Old Firm.

    One plus with the Old firm having so many troubles there is always a chance of a Dundee United or another club with a good rein of form taking on these wobbling giants of the Scottish game.


  • Comment number 14.

    neil lennon is in pole position for the hotseat!!!!

    Absolute nonsense. We need an experienced manager. Not coyle, mowbray or martinez!!! Somebody like strachan who was much maligned by most at parkhead!! The fact he was under such pressure, after winning three spl titles, shows how difficult celtic supporters are and how ill informed the scottish media are. The above statement is absolutely laughable.

    I also feel realy sorry for mowbray. He obviously could not handle the scotish media the way o'neil or strachan could. It is remarkable however how much all three managers despised the football press around the west of scotland goldfish bowl. I think scottish football would actually be better served by less pundits who have never played or managed in the game at a decent level having such an influence on the hearts and minds of football supporters.

    If mowbray had one solid, experienced centre back we might not even be having this debate. Caldwell and mcmanus were absolutely terrible for him and injuries have completely scuppered any attempts by him to improve the back line. He also inherited duds like samaras, o'dea and the massively over rated and mostly ineffectual mcgeady. Mcdonald was shocking for him and looked unfit all year. Injuries to maloney and brown who are our two most influential players have not helped either...How would rangers cope without davis and weir for most of the season!!! I honestly feel the luck of the gods were against him!! Best of luck Tony Mowbray.

  • Comment number 15.

    Agree with 11 and 14.

    We need an experienced manager, someone who can handle the media presuure and someone who has experience of Europe too, preferably as a player and as a manager. We are no small club, and should be competitive in salaries, to attract the best - maybe not the top 4 in England or big leagues in Europe, but should attract talented managers c/f the Wigans and west broms of this world surely.

    Mowbary was a big mistake from day one - he just couldn't hack this level of club.

  • Comment number 16.

    Peter Lawwell and John Reid showed a lack of respect to West Bromwich Albion last summer firstly by pursuing Tony Mowbray when the Albion chairman clearly said no, and secondly by dragging their heels over the £2 million compensation required for Mowbray's release. Very expensive.
    And now the pair of them haven't got the courage to give Mowbray till the end of this season, when Celtic could still win the Scottish Cup, let alone another season, and presumably the contracts of Mowbray and his assistans have to be paid up to some extent.
    One has to ask of John Reid: is he fit for purpose?

  • Comment number 17.

    Things could have been very different had Mowbray tried to build from the back. Surely he had watched footage of matches from previous seasons and seen that any pairing of McManus/Caldwell/Loovens was not the answer. Just because you invest in centre-back's doesn't make you a defensive coach. The hype over Robbie Keane's arrival during the transfer window also overshadowed Celtic's failure to capture Ramis or St Ledger.

    While on their day, Celtic could be very good, this season they have never had the strong spine of a team capable of grinding out results, which is vital when you are trying to win a league title.

    Player for player, Celtic have a squad every bit as strong as Rangers - they just don't have as strong a team.

    http://footballfutbolfitba.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 18.

    Isn't hindsight a wonderful thing.

    Jim Spence asks:

    "... how well did [the Celtic board] know Mowbray before handing him the reins of one of football's most demanding jobs?
    What was the recruitment process that saw them hire a manager from a club which he had relegated from the English Premier League?"

    Here is an extract from Jim Spence's blog last June upon Tony Mowbray's appointment:

    "Many claim that Tony Mowbray was always the number one choice for Celtic. Only the Parkhead powerbrokers can know for sure whether he was ahead of Mark McGhee, Owen Coyle and Roberto Martinez in the race for the coveted position."

    "However, it's too easy to be critical of an appointment process that has to deal head on with ego, uncertainty, compensation issues and the testy problem of overcoming allegations of tapping-up a manager currently in employment."

    "The whole situation is fraught with danger, both for the club seeking to hire and the club hoping to hang on to a manager."

    "And, at the back of every director's mind, the gnawing fear that what looks on paper to be a sure-fire winner may turn out to be the footballing equivalent of a Devon Loch."

    "Boards of directors can do all the due diligence they like, to use Willie Miller's phrase, but they're still dealing with flesh and blood and human uncertainty. The appointment of any new manager carries a high-risk warning."

    "For what it's worth, and assuming that Tony Mowbray and Mark McGhee are unveiled at Celtic and Aberdeen respectively, I think all three clubs have made top-notch choices."

    "Celtic get a man committed to stylish football who will see that a sense of dignity ensues in the club's dealings with the wider world. The Hoops under him could be a real revelation."

  • Comment number 19.

    I would also like any future experienced manager to bring in players with maturity and perhaps a strong understanding of british football. Our most succesful players over the last ten years have already had a wealth of playing experience in major leagues, world cups etc... Larsson, moravcik, sutton, lambert, thomson, mjalby etc... I am definetley not against bringing in players in their thirties because we desperately need mature professionals to help the likes of josh thompson, rogna, nguemo and even the likes of scott brown who is relatively young. These players and others coming through the ranks at parkhead could make a great future for celtic but they need pro's beside them. Imagine the likes of neville, giggs or even beckham coming to parkhead for just one season! The kida would see how real professionals and winners do it!!

  • Comment number 20.

    I don't think that Jim Spence is any position to describe the appointment of Tony Mowbray as "poor" as has been amplified by the post from aires22. Stick to Dundee Utd. Jim where the expecttion is nil.

    The Board made the decision to appoint Mowbray because they realised that they had made huge mistake the previous season by not buying in the January window and throwing away the league. Only they and Strachan couldn't see that a fresh face or two would have ensured victory. They also realised, belatedly, that the support was fed up with the football on display and wanted to get back to something approaching the style of TB's team only this time with winning trophies.

    Having paid £2M to secure TM it must be assumed that the Board bought into his long term view and realised that this would take time.I don't doubt for a minute that Lawwell sold Caldwell, not Mowbray, although I'm not complaining, half a dozen good games doesn't make up for all the mistakes!!
    Having bought into the philosophy why didn't they give him time to make additional purchases in the summer and continue the rebuilding?
    All because of money and a justifiable fear that there would be a huge drop in the number of season ticket renewals.
    The same Board that could have put Rangers out of business if only they had invested during Strachans' last season.Fans are not stupid, and it'll take more than Lenny winning the Cup to convince them that they should stump up their, and my, hard earned cash.
    We need positive move from The Board and if it involves spending money, then it has to be spent.
    Their frugal approach has already cost us a place in CL and the rewards that brings, speculate to accumulate or wither, the choice is theirs.

  • Comment number 21.

    How about Chris Sutton? ;)

  • Comment number 22.

    Speculate to accumulate... or speculate and go bust...

    which will Celtic do i wonder?

  • Comment number 23.

    Rangers are in almost total control in the moment and they could well be set for 10 in a row. Imagine if a major investor comes in there, Celtic would be well and truly scunnered.

    I don't see any change in the situation next season, and Rangers are already hot favourites for the 2011 title.

    Neil Lennon should be given as much chance as possible, even if Celtic finish outside the top three next year.

  • Comment number 24.

    "Does he improve teams (Tony left Hibs where he found them, 8th in the table, and did the same with West Brom)?"

    Aren't you forgetting that between those he managed to give Hibs consecutive top 4 finishes *and* had the highest win percentage since Jock Stein? Or that he actually got West Brom promoted?

    Going off your criteria Brian Clough was a failure at Forest...

    Mowbray was a bad choice, league-wise in hindsight, Europe-wise in foresight (his record with Hibs in Europe was terrible), but he's hardly the first SPL manager not to cut muster in the English leagues. Strachan's hardly set Middlesbrough alight, and McLeish relegated Birmingham in his first season before displaying just how good a manager he is.

    The current state of Scottish football means you can forget attracting top managerial talent, and any you do unearth will soon head south of the border to the riches on offer in the EPL. For now your teams are for the likes of Mowbray to try (in has case fail) and achieve success in order to get plaudits and baubles and to attract bigger fish.

    The team I follow, Bolton, are unlikely to trouble the top quarter of the EPL anytime soon - and yet we were a more attractive destination than Celtic for Owen Coyle.

    The calibre of Mowbray is what you're attracting, instead of belittling him, maybe time to start to fight the rot in Scottish football? Preferably before you become a slightly less attractive managerial destination than the League of Iraq.

  • Comment number 25.

    As a West Brom fan I wasn't too unhappy to see Mowbray go. He's a good (note I said "good", not "great") manager for the Championship but his season with us in the EPL was... well let's not dwell on it. The problem was he only had one tactic: fill the park with attacking midfielders and go all-out attack. In the Championship we had the resources to actually pull that off (we were champions in a very tight league). In the Premier League we couldn't compete in that way and we ended up bottom despite playing some attractive football and having a decent team.

    At Celtic it seems the same things let him down again. He does have an eye for talent but clearly that failed him in his signings, and once again he was too tactically naive to get results when it really mattered. Mowbray is a decent manager but at Celtic, like with us in the EPL, he was clearly out of his depth.

  • Comment number 26.

    Oh yes they can.

  • Comment number 27.

  • Comment number 28.

    Craig Bellamy player manager - seems to have the fight and convition to lift this poor poor team???

  • Comment number 29.

    Jim,

    Like others have said, it's very easy in hindsight to point out that Mowbray was a mistake. I will admit that I was one of those who thought that he would be a great appointment, although I was a little concerned with the fact that his teams tended to be 'Keegan-esque' for want of a better phrase.

    Also, your point about listening to fans - are you mad? Fans know absolutely nothing about football. Listen to any phone in, read any football forum, and you'll get ample proof of that. In fact just read some of the comments on this blog:

    "Rangers are in almost total control in the moment and they could well be set for 10 in a row. Imagine if a major investor comes in there, Celtic would be well and truly scunnered.

    I don't see any change in the situation next season, and Rangers are already hot favourites for the 2011 title."

    Yep, that's almost-bankrupt Rangers, whose manager has already admitted that the end of this season will be a traumatic one, will be going for 10 in a row. I believe that would be called 'Exhibit A'.

    Also, the 'Celtic minded' nonsense - seriously? Jim, I thought you were above all that. It's a phrase bandied about in the media by sweetie wife journalists, but worst all of, you get nuggets outside Parkhead repeating it, because they've read it in their paper that morning. It's a case of myth becoming fact by repetition.

  • Comment number 30.

    How interesting. True, Mowbray did have some bad results, and tactically with substitutions in particular, he struggled at times. The team played without passion at vital times and an everchanging squad hampered consistancy. That was within his control, but for the most part, the abovementioned issues would not have been fully brought into fruition had it not in fact been for the standards set without Mowbray's influence, or that of the Celtic Board.

    Far be it for me to begin rebranding existing bodies, but just when are the SFA going to step up to the mark of the RSFA? Be this Racist Scottish Football Association or Rangers, the level of bias has always been rife but truly come into the limelight now. From Penalties not given in Old firm games, to Lafferty escaping red in two old firm games this season (Outrageous tackle on Hinkel at Parkhead and raising his hand to Brown at Castle Greyskull)we have seen some of the most comical officiating in some years. Even this past Saturday, Fortune was felled by a clumsy sliding challenge in the first half, before a defender dropped to his knees in the box and blocked a low pass with two hands.

    Comedy indeed. Many perpertrators believe comments such as mine to be a conspiracy theory, I call their remarks preferential blind-ness. The evidence to convict and prevent the bias through Scottish football is ther, but the media circus that is ever-rife with damning criticism of Mowbray's reign seems to have 'overlooked' other, more severe issues. Perhaps if more time was spent with an open mind on equal pars through the Old Firm reviewing football rather than pushing papers with idol gossip, we may see a rather different view on Mowbray's reign.

    So quickly forgotten are the financial disaster across the city. Might I remind the media that Rangers' are only running because of Lloyds' fear of cancelled business from Ranger's fans? Not that I am implying there would be much loss.

    Mowbray was niaive at times,yes, but I beg of the media to consider all facts before force feeding the masses with their tabloid tripe, and rather than wound Scottish football by condemning un-worthy members of our fair game with their dull rhetoric, help route out the imposters of good will in our game for a more fair and passionate national sport.

    All bodes well for Lennon in charge. No one will understand the plight of the bias referee more than he. Anyone remember his last old firm game? Probably not, there was virtually no media remonstration after his in-box hacking and subsequent penalty denial.

    Good luck in the future Mr. Mowbray.

  • Comment number 31.

    Does Paul Lambert have anything in his CV that Mowbray did not?
    The Celtic Quick News blog was a good read for anyone, some very good points, but maybe its time Celtic give Willie McStay a chance, the guy had done nothing but good things for the reserves and youths while he was there

  • Comment number 32.

    When are the Celtic board and majority of fans going to wake up to the reality that this league is not as bad as they continue believe ?

    Are Rangers really that bad, the same Rangers team got to a major european final - ok the football was a cure for insomnia but never the less they got there.

    Hibs and Dundee Utd - are decent teams in relative terms, back in the O'Neil days at Celtic and Rangers teams of the 90's etc granted these same teams would be 20 - 25 points behind - but those days are gone, and it is now a very competitive league.

    Celtic need to stop under estimating this league (which is what Mowbray was also guilty of) and stop over estimating their own team.

    Man for Man the Celtic and Rangers teams are very similar and are only marginally better than the 3rd - 5th teams.

    The new manager needs to know this league, understand what its all about and build a team accordingly. From there they can start to build on that base to make a mark in Europe.

    Smith for all his negative tactics - has built a team to win the league and steer the club through their financial troubles - I'm certain the plan will be to build for europe when the money comes back.

    Celtic get it wrong this time and the teams down from 3rd to 6th this year will prove very tough competition next season, let alone Rangers.

  • Comment number 33.

    DS73 wrote:

    When are the Celtic board and majority of fans going to wake up to the reality that this league is not as bad as they continue believe ?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Wasn't aware that the Celtic board had made any statements about the quality of the SPL. Did some columist on the Daily Record or Sun run on article on what they think Celtic's views are and you think it must be true?

    Celtic need to stop underestimating the SPL? The SPL is now a more competitive league?

    - Why? Only two teams tend to win the SPL since the year dot and they are one of them!!! For all the other SPL teams hardly anyone comes to watch them and the ultimate success is 3rd place in the league, and a pre-qualifying round early exit from Europe against any opposition no matter where they come from!

    The OF only marginally better than the 3-5 placed teams?

    - Didn't Rangers take seven off DUtd recently and four off Hibs at Easter Road at the turn of the year? Despite Celtic having a poor season they are still in 2nd place!

  • Comment number 34.

    The SPL is that good that,in a recent article in the Guardian regarding the state of football and finances in Spain, the Seville boss said that La Liga reminded him of Scotland, only two teams involved.

    The standards in Scotland have been getting progressively worse for some years but this must be about the worst SPL for donkeys years. It's true that you can get a good game from 2 bad teams but that doesn't do anything for the standard of Scottish football.

    There is no real opposition to the OF. Some teams can raise their game when they play one or the other but they can't sustain it and usually lose the next one against other mediocre teams.

    The only way to improve is for the standard of everything to rise, from pitches,referees, players' abilities, and the introduction of one governing body.

  • Comment number 35.

    Oh dear Sevenfold44 if that isnt the ramblings of a paranoid fan I dont know what is-you state about the bias of the SFA towards your team, yet I would be willing to bet my house that when Celtic were winning the league, you made no such remarks against the SFA-titles you wonj with a bit of help from the refs I may add. The team I support St.Mirren had some dreadful decisions against your lot-the Gary MAon non-foul on Nakamura that enabled him to get a free-kick, that he scored for you to win at Love Street-the same season on the opening day-Potter is sent off, for a non-challenge, which was bad enough, but you get a penalty, which turned out to be the winner as well.

    So please stop bleating about the big bad SFA and refs out to get your team-try being a non-old frim fan to see some truly shocking decsisions, that funnily enough dont have the fans of non-OF teams saying how the SFA are 'racist'. Yes we moan, times righfully so, but we dont consume ourselves with this nonsense that the SFA and the Refs are out to get us.

  • Comment number 36.

    ROB04

    No Celtic have never made any comments about the quality of the league, all except wanting to leave it for the last 5 years...

    Re: Rangers winning 7-1 etc Doesn't that prove my point that the celtic board have under estimated their opponents in this league - Rangers recording big victories against their rivals for the league - Celtic on the other hand have struggled to beat any of them.

    And yes Celtic are second but if you look back at the previous SPL's (with the exception of Hearts once) The old firm have tradionally finished 1st and 2nd by 20 odd+ point margins over the rest - the gap is now closing surely indicating a more competitive league ??





  • Comment number 37.

    As a Rangers fan I'm a bit wary of putting my tuppence worth in about who should replace Tony Mowbray, but I cannot believe that the media has produced such a range of cliche-ridden guff and downright lazy journalism on the possibility of Neil Lennon taking over. Virtually every manager, interim or permanent, who takes over a failing team gets a positive reaction for the first half dozen or so matches. It's hardly rocket science that where players' morale is low and the team is under-performing things will improve briefly when the new man comes in full of enthusiasm and ideas, and the players are desperate to impress. The trick is to maintain the 'bounce' beyond the initial period (e.g. look at Dundee United for several years before Levein took over), so I will be amazed if the Celtic board pay too much attention to how Lennon fares between now and the end of the season. We've already seen the media reaction to the win over Kilmarnock on Saturday - immediately dressed up as 'the Lennon effect', as if it wasn't simply a routine home victory over a struggling side that would very probably have happened if Mowbray had stayed! Tony would also probably have won the cup if he'd been given another couple of months. But if Celtic now win the cup and perhaps pull back a few points on Rangers in the league, their fans will be screaming for Neil to be made manager, especially if he gets a decent result in the final Old Firm. However, Rangers may well have the title won before that match, and will almost certainly throw a few fringe/young players into the team to give the regulars a rest over the remaining league games. To make a decision based on the therefore suspect evidence of the next nine matches would be madness, and unfair on Lennon himself.

    It has been interesting reading all the comments about Mowbray's appointment, and who should succeed him, and I must admit it leads me to the conclusion that there is no sure way of knowing if a football manager is going to be a success at any given club. We thought Paul le Guen would be the answer at Ibrox but, like Mowbray, he showed a surprising naivity and made poor managerial decisions. Few were impressed when Murray brought in Alex McLeish, yet he thrived. I thought Mowbray would do well at Celtic, with his knowledge of the club and the Old Firm pressure cooker, but I'm afraid he mistook obstinacy for principles. Neil Lennon (despite his image with many Rangers fans) appears to be an intelligent and likable man, who is gaining considerable knowledge about the game. Maybe one day, but as he currently has no management experience or track record it would be a huge risk for the Celtic board to make him manager, no matter how well his team performs during the 10 games he will be in charge. It's obviously the least expensive option facing the board at present, but may cost them a lot more in the long run. Here's hoping...!!

  • Comment number 38.

    If its true that you can tell a man by his countenance TM was dead in the water months ago (witness the photograph).In 20 years involvement in Junior football and hence association at times with the professional clubs in England my abiding memory is the appalling lack of intelligence of the custodians therein.Children who crave information receive cliche "Keep your nose clean and your head down"Brilliant mister but I am only 10, what are you talking about?
    Given the history it is inevitable that ex-players are invited to the table of coaching and management, no matter how unsuitable.A Martin O`Neil crops up once every 50 years and created such an impression that he became an almost impossible act to follow.How times change, 40 years ago teams brought players through the "ranks".Since the "Bosman" ruling its now "how much money is available".The new criteria has taken hold.
    I do not pretend to know Tony Mowbray but my frustration turned to anger as I watched the last Old Firm game because from a coaching perspective he hadnt a clue.I could rustle up a team of under 16s to beat this mediocre Rangers team and someone paid £2million compensation to secure his services.Shall this folly be repeated? Surely, because its the nature of the beast.

  • Comment number 39.

    Granted Celtic have had a pretty poor season but I wonder where the likes of Dundee United and Hibs would be relative to their current positions if they were able to go out and pay a kings ransom a week for a Premiership star on loan, £3.8 million on a striker at the start of the season, £1.8 million on a centre half in January plus the other half a dozen players brought in this season.

    The SPL may well not be the greatest standard league in Europe but I'd say the teams below the OF are giving it a fair go with little or no resources!

  • Comment number 40.

    Celtic should have tried to buy Chester City, although it may be slightly illegal or require some 'creative book keeping'.

    Getting out of the SPL should be the number 1 focus, it doesn't matter who the manager is there simply isn't the television money to do anything. Managers like Owen Coyle will continue to choose Bolton and Wigan over Celtic because the job is far more difficult - if the objective is to stay in the Premier League and continue to collect television revenue, that's far easier than trying to make the last 16 or last 8 of the European Cup on a budget dwarfed by clubs of similar size in the major leagues. Look at the qualifier against Arsenal earlier in the season - two clubs with the same size stadium, both global 'clubs' in their own ways, for the sake of argument similar clubs - Celtic's most expensive player on the field was Scott Brown at just over £4 million, Arsenal's was Arshavin at around £16 million with Vermaelen £10m, Sagna £6m and Eduardo £7.5. In financial terms the two sides are miles apart, simply because one is in the Premier League and one in the SPL.

    Yes Mowbray was baffling and some of his signings iffy to say the least but I agree with most of the players he removed (the only one I would have kept was McDonald), I wouldn't be overly fussed if Brown and McGeady left and if they could offload Samaras and Crosas even better. Not that it would leave much of a team I admit!

    How about a trip to the south coast, I hear there is a club about to go to the wall? How illegal can it be?

  • Comment number 41.

    37. At 7:47pm on 29 Mar 2010, Dun62Andy wrote:
    Virtually every manager, interim or permanent, who takes over a failing team gets a positive reaction for the first half dozen or so matches. It's hardly rocket science that where players' morale is low and the team is under-performing things will improve briefly when the new man comes in full of enthusiasm and ideas, and the players are desperate to impress.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Your key word there was "virtually" because, just to illustrate that there's always an exception to prove the rule, check out Gordon Strachan's record at Middlesbrough after he took over there. He has taken that club backwards.

  • Comment number 42.

    maybe celtic supporters should appreciate the success achieved by Strachan more. The lack of support from the fans and financial backing from the board during his spell was shameful. If he received more money back when rangers were in real bother our dominance could have lasted way more than three years... and lennon a Celtic legend? Turn it up...he was an extremely one dimensional player. Half the player that Lambert or Petrov was....!!?

  • Comment number 43.

    Jim Spence - What does 'Celtic Minded' mean? You say its a 'bonus' for a manager to be 'Celtic Minded'. Do you mean a supporter of the football team pior to appointment? Cheers.

  • Comment number 44.

    I'm Scottish and a Celtic supporter. But I've been living abroad for over 20 years now. When I was growing up, I often heard reporters talking about Scottish football and how Celtic and Rangers had a huge following "here and around the world". This "around the world" continues to be tagged on to sentences in reports, including this one, until today. However, the truth is that most people I talk to have never heard of either team. Scottish players may be legends in their own minds but that doesn't mean that they are well known abroad. Most people couldn't care less who manages Celtic, so let's try to keep the reporting in context. Managing the Hoops may be an important job in Scotland, but to say that it is important on a worldwide basis is simply not true. When I moved abroad, I really did think, because of all the hyperbolic reporting about the Scottish game, that I would run into Old Firm supporters all over the place, but nothing could be further from the truth.

  • Comment number 45.

    Lennon has absolutely NO CHANCE of ever becoming Celtic boss. I agree with tomcat at 42; Lennon never was and never will be a Celtic legend. He was a journeyman in England, no better; and could just about cut it with what was then, Scotland's top team, and only because of the cannon-fodder they were playing against every week. Lennon's coaching abilities are unknown and unproven, which is something that will not be lost on the Celtic board when making their decision. Even if Celtic were to win every game between now and the end of the season, I cannot believe that Lennon would be offered the job. Sure, he'll probably be guaranteed a job (reserve team coach might be something suitable) but the top job must go to someone who can not only mould a team that can challenge Rangers, but also to a person who can be a true ambassador for Celtic. Unfortunately for Neil Lennon, he fits neither bill.

  • Comment number 46.

    I agree with #37 comments on Lennon and with others that he wasn't a 'legend', and probably won;t get the job but some of the other comments do need a bit of context to them. At the time Lennon signed for Celtic, Celtic weren't top dogs - it was Dick's £90m Gers dream team. And Celtic needed the muscle and scuttle of Lennon to compete with and smother the likes of Barry Ferguson. I really don't think he was as one dimensional as a player as one comment above suggests. His often quiet but effective influence on games gave Celtic a real solidity in the middle that they badly needed at the time and gave the platform for the likes of Petrov, Moravcik and Larsson to plunder forward. A legend no, a guy who took responsibility on and always fought for his team, yes. And how the present team could do with that kind of player today!

    Strachan picked up on the coat-tails of MON's team and did a great job as some of the comments above have said. But his team blew two seven point leads last season. By the end they looked dead on their feet and WGS looked clueless about how to address it. I never minded his often fractious relations with the press (quite liked it) but there was a host of dressing room 'personality' problems with players (Graveson, McGeady) and others that he signed that just never saw the light of day. Far from being 'hounded out' of Celtic, I think Strachan had simply ran out of ideas and decided he didn't need the hassle anymore. All managers but especially OF managers, even if they are successful, tend to have a short shelf life.

  • Comment number 47.

    45. dundee_neil

    A reality check is required here.

    If lennon is not he man then who is? Who would want the job? Remember the last effort, Mowbray was 4 th choice behind Moyes, Coyle and Martinez. Martinez reckoned Wigan was a better bet.

    So what has changed? Nothing, if anything the job is now less attractive as Celtic will have less money to give to the new manager. Some realism is required. Mark Hughes is highly unlikely to come to Celtic. Celtic need to keep to the financial common sense they have shown over the past few years.

    So Lennon might be the best bet in reality. If not it is someone else who is untried and tested. Same thing for Rangers when Smith goes.

    The reality of Scottish football.

  • Comment number 48.

    i agree with the sentiment of northhighlander's commenmts at 47; however I don't agree that either Celtic or Rangers will be forced to take the untried or untested route. I am an advocate of the 'hungry' young boss, so I guess that would mean plucking someone who is proving to be successful at a lower league club in England. There are a few, for whom Celtic would be an obvious 'step-up'; the likes of (doesn't matter if you rate or don't rate them in the way I do) Nigel Pearson; Darren Ferguson; Paul Lambert; Kevin Blackwell; Malky McKay; all have much more experience and arguably more to offer than Lennon. All 5 that I name there are doing very well at moulding teams on very limited budgets, and despite the fact that all are not considered yet as being 'successful', they do have much respect within the game for past and current acheivements. Don't discount Roy Keane this time around. You could argue that he falls into the same category as the 5 named.

  • Comment number 49.

    Of course Martinez believes Wigan are a better bet (short-term at least) because he is sharpening his skills and learning his trade by pitting himself against his counterparts in every match in one of the world's top leagues. The only times Celtic's managers are challenged under normal circumstances is in Old Firm games and European competition. Its a 'no brainer' for someone who has the chance to manage in the Premiership. The lure of being Celtic boss (especially with little money available to make Celtic competitive in Europe) is just not enough to attract 'top' proven managers any more. Go for the 'hungry' option, but not Lennon; he's just 'ravenous'.

  • Comment number 50.

    Some interesting choices Neil and would agree with your 'hungry' option. It is unlikely to be a big name this time around given the lack of money and the lure of the premiership. Blackwell has a rather chequered record so not sure he'd be a runner for me. Keane comes with a bit too much baggage and you really would worry about how he would handle the media. Other options may be Curbishley who is unlikely to get another premiership job anytime soon and of course Craig Levein, although the SFA may be a bit unhappy.

 

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