Time To Get It Right

27 Mar
There was no way back for Tony Mowbray after Celtic’s 4-0 humiliation at St Mirren. Mowbray seemed resigned to his fate, barely emerging from the dug-out during the second-half at New St Mirren Park and blaming his own tactics immediately after the match. Mowbray’s subsequent dismissal was therefore not a surprise.

Mowbray made a decent start to his time in charge and at one point Celtic held a 4 point lead at the top of the SPL. However, things went downhill after losing the first Old Firm game of the season and some abysmal performances, particularly away from home, have resulted in Rangers cantering towards a second successive title. The current position is even more galling considering that Celtic are in a far stronger financial position than their great rivals, and arguably have a playing squad which is as strong, if not stronger, than that across the city.

While Mowbray’s philosophy of attractive, attacking football was admirable, his reluctance to compromise his beliefs and an inability to adapt to his surroundings, contributed to his sacking.  His failure to buy a decent central defender at the start of the season didn’t help either.

So Celtic are back to where they were last summer – looking for a new manager. Attracting a top drawer boss will now be even more difficult than it was following Gordon Strachan’s departure, as Celtic are no longer the dominant force they were for much of the last decade. Whoever takes the job will inherit a squad which, although not lacking in ability or flair, has a soft centre and lacks the steel required to overcome some of the challenges that the SPL has to offer. There is the added complication of several loan signings, whose future’s will need to be decided at the end of the season.

Neil Lennon, assisted by Johann Mjallby, will take temporary charge and a good end to the season could put Lennon in contention. Lennon has publicly stated he wants the job, and while he lacks experience, he will have the backing of many fans if he can deliver a league victory against Rangers along with the Scottish Cup.

Hibernian manager John Hughes has been quoted by some bookmakers, but is surely a non-starter. Hughes’ approach to the game is similar to Mowbray’s and at the moment Celtic need a pragmatist who would rather win ugly that not win at all. Celtic’s other two choices from last summer, Owen Coyle and Roberto Martinez, are still in the early stages of their English Premier League careers and will be going nowhere.

Paul Lambert will be among the favourites but it’s too early in his coaching career. After a terrible time at Livingston, Lambert did a decent job at both Wycombe Wanderers and Colchester United. He looks likely to lead Norwich City into the Championship but his reputation would suffer if he were to walk out on the Canaries, after doing the same to Colchester earlier in the season.

Roy Keane’s name will be mentioned but that’s more down to his previous connection with the club than anything he’s achieved as a Manager. Then there’s possibly the worst scenario of all – David O’Leary. His time at Aston Villa was an indication of how he copes when he isn’t able to spend large amounts in the transfer market.

There seems to be few serious contenders for the role, ie someone would be interested in going to Celtic and is capable of taking the club forward. Mark Hughes is a possibility – he has the advantage of being currently out of work, meaning no compensation would have to be paid. There would be no doubts over Hughes’ ability to cope with the pressures of the goldfish bowl that is Glasgow, and his CV is fairly impressive with spells in charge of Blackburn, Manchester City and Wales.

Steve McClaren has restored his credibility at FC Twente, and his stock will be even higher should Twente clinch the Eredivisie title in the next few weeks. While a crack at the Champions League would be tempting, so would the opportunity of a return to British football.

Whether Hughes or McClaren would be interested in moving to Scotland remains to be seen. If not, Celtic would possibly have to take a gamble on a foreign coach. Celtic and Rangers have had mixed results when employing Managers from overseas. For every Wim Jansen and Dick Advocaat, there’s been a Josef Venglos and Paul Le Guen, but with a lack of genuine candidates, Celtic may have to take a chance.

After the successful reigns of Martin O’Neill and Strachan, the failure of Tony Mowbray’s time in charge has been a shock to Celtic’s system, and a painful reminder of John Barnes’ short stint at Parkhead. As was the case in 2000, Celtic must ensure they appointment the right man for the job or risk Rangers embarking on a period of dominance from which it could take a long time to recover.






3 Responses to “Time To Get It Right”

  1. Graham Buckley May 4, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

    players at celtic not being of the same standard as keane …..do you forget keane the superstar was part of that team humiliated by ross county,65k a week to score penalties because he has’nt scored many from open play

  2. Graham Buckley May 4, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    And keane was also part of the team that were humiliated by ST Mirren and you have the nerve to say other players are not of his quality,its nto that long ago young thompson scored 2 goals for celtic KEANE 0 i dont know where you’se are going with keane but he is no world class striker

  3. footballfutbolfitba May 4, 2010 at 6:24 pm #

    Graham, cheers for your comments. At no point did I say Keane is a world class striker. He could still do a job in the English Premier League, but as I mentioned, his chances of getting a move to a top side have gone. He failed at Liverpool and won’t get another opportunity like that.

    As for saying Keane is a class above most other Celtic players, too right he is. You don’t have to be top drawer to be better than the current Celtic team. I based that opinion on his first few games in particular, where he was making runs but his team-mates were too slow to release the ball or not good enough to play a killer pass.

    The Ross County and St Mirren games showed why Celtic should have given the 65K wages to a defender, which should have been the priority.

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