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How Soon They Forget

Some things in life never fail to take ones breath away.  Celtics inability to lose goals at the last minute,  The Medias over-hyping of a The Rangers victory or the bleating of Managers in denial.

This week sees Peter Houston, a man earning 2 wages no less, complaining that the SFA’s treatment of Craig Levein is a disgrace.  I can only agree. How the SFA have managed to keep Levein in a job ( up to lunchtime on 5th November at least) after the final whistle against Macedonia is a disgrace. Levein continues to plead “We are improving” but has never managed to offer any evidence to back up this claim. Scotland lie bottom of the table, the same positions occupied by the usual European Minnows.

The phrase  “League Tables don’t lie”  is exactly the sort of evidence Houston and Levein  would use for sel-priase,  only when their club\country are doing well of course.  Despite initial back-slapping  following an orchestrated campaign to ignore Gordon Strachans outstanding candidacy,  it appears that even the Scottish Media has started turning on the hapless Sunglass wearer. When these lowly dogs start to growl it kind of indicates that he really is doomed.

No doubt he will get a BBC job analysing future games and we will continually hear how he wouldn’t have changed a thing and how it was all due to pressure from the public and the media. We can expect to hear Levein feel sorry that the Powers-that-be just failed to have his vision. In his mind those will be the main reason for his sacking and not the lack of  results,  performances or any indicators whatsoever that Levein know what he was doing or knew how to get a Scottish team playing and progressing.


As if the Levein Affair isn’t bad enough we now have arguably the most hopeless Celtic Manager in living memory ( yes even worse than Macari, Brady and Barnes!), Tony Mowbray playing the Martyr Card and claiming he was hard done by at Celtic Park. To say there is cause for debate within Mowbray’s moans is being economical. Lets review his thoughts on his tenure :

My time at Celtic, for me, was one of those scenarios that you sometimes have to go through. When I got there I was told to totally rip it up and start again and they lost patience with that, which is fine. I’ve no problem with that. But in this job at Boro, I am hoping there is a bit more patience at this club than there was at my last one. You have your own vision of what you want to do when going into a club for the first time, but there is no magic wand. If you want the team to play a certain way you need to get the right players in. Or in the short-term you work with what you’ve got and try to get the very best out of them, then change it when you can.”


Mowbray is obviously looking through Tony colour glasses here. Its nice to see his Middlesbrough coming good and good luck to them, especially wee Scott MacDonald, but in respect to your time at Celtic Tony, do us a favour and keep quiet. Mowbray’s claims that the Board didn’t give him enough time will be the same issued by Levein. Pure denial. It would be near impossoble to find any Celtic fan suggesting the Board were to blame or even let Tony Mowbray down when he was at Celtic.  The Man came, the man saw and the man was found totally wanting. The result at love Street will forever be etched on my memory as one of utter embarrassment.


I recall when we signed Tony Mowbray, the most worrying report in the Press came from West Brom fan Frank Skinner who said Tony’s a lovely man, And I wish Celtic well under Tony. But am I sorry to see him leave the Albion? No, not really. His puritanical approach to football is unworkable. So I think we did well staying bottom of the (league] for months and then getting £2 million for our manager. He would have been sacked but Celtic gave us all that money. That’s quite a sleight of hand. I’m not saying the Albion weren’t entertaining under him; they were. But what does ‘football’ mean? It can’t just mean pretty passing. There are other aspects, like defending and making sure one of your midfielders is a holding player.


You could imagine the self-believing Mowbray to read than and only see the positive “I’m worth £2m me!” rather than a man who had clearly been found not up to the task. This actually IS a question on which the Celtic Board could do with some soul-searching. Peter Lawwell tried to claim Mowbray was the man we wanted ” Folk complained about Gordon Strachan’s football so we got Tony.”. It was strange that the Board felt a need to “Play better football”  meant paying £2m for a Manager who had just got his side relegated. Despite Mowbrays links with the Celtic Support from his huddle introducing playing days, Nice giy Tony was never the man for the Celtic job.  Mowbray “the Nice man” is a tag that we hear for him  and in truth its helped Mowbray get an easier ride from most Celtic fans than his results deserve.  While Mowbray the man will be viewed sympathetically for his personal loss,  professionally he was just awful for Celtic. No amount of denial or “woulda-could-shoulda” will remove this terrible stain from Celtics Management history.


Mowbray also claims that he was asked to rip it up and start again but didn’t get the backing he needed. While rumours persist the Robbie Keane gambit wasn’t of his choosing,  Board support did seem to be present judging by sheer transfer numbers.  Incoming players included Morten Rasmussen’s,  Landry N’Guemo, Marco Fortune, Lukasz Zaluska, Danny Fox, Josh Thompson, Zheng Zhi, Ki Sung Yeung, Jos Hooiveld and Thomas Rogne. Heading out the first team were players like Steven McManus and Gary Caldwell. Tying in with Frank Skinners Defending quote, Would anyone suggest that Josh Thomson and Darren O’Dea were a better Centre Half pairing than McManus and Heid? Barry Robson or Zheng-Zhi anyone?

Mowbrays basic stats at Celtic show :


From     : 16 June 2009

To           : 25 March 2010

Played  : 45

Won      : 23

Drawn   : 9

Lost        : 13

Win %   : 51.11%


Compare this to Neil Lennon’s


From     : 25 March 2010

Played  : 134

Won      : 98

Drawn   : 16

Lost        : 20

Win%    : 73.13%


Some could try to propose  that Neil Lennon was a recipient of a great rebuilding Legacy from a visionary but misunderstood Mowbray but then the bench warming names of Rogne and Zaluska would suggest otherwise. Ki is the only notable Mowbray signing success ( Rogne has shown glimpses but injury continues to cloud his Celtic career) while names like Rasmussen and the arriving-then-departing Danny Fox continue to have Celtic fans asking different kind of questions. The biggest gift Mowbray arguably left Celtic was Lennon himself who no doubt learned so much when watching the Mowbray disasters unfold. Learning what not to do is as important in knowing what to do in football management.

It had been suggested that Mowbray had signed a confidentiality clause regards his time as Celtic boss and maybe the statute of limitations has passed on that one and he’s ready to vent. Either that or he has received the last of his pay off money. Like his actual management period at Celtic, its all rather ugly and nasty and yet again something that we all really  could do without experiencing.

Of course it could just be a spot of media meddling on the eve of a big Celtic game but hey, what’s the chances of that happening?


As a matter of coincidence the Mowbray piece appears in the papers on the same day as Craig Leveins SFA meeting and coverage of ex Chancellor, Prime Minister and of course City Banking Deregulator Gordon Brown ranting on about the SNP! What is it about men who have been total failures  not being able to just walk away, forever haud their weesht and try and retain some semblance of dignity?


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Davie Donnelly
11 years ago

I will always remember Tony as the man who took it more times on the chin than a thai hooker!!

11 years ago

good read and IMO (Re Mowbury) totally true
I predicted at the time they got shot of WGS that Mowbury was not the man for the job and getting shot of Strachan (who had won us 3 in a row)was a disaster waiting to happen and we’d be in the wilderness for five years, it would have been oh so different IF our leaders had given the wee man the money to buy Fletcher in the January window but they chose to pander to those that wanted the wee man out.

11 years ago

Bogbhoy, I’m not going to give you the ‘pelters’ that you suspect, will come your way. I however, express my upmost jealously, towards the crystal ball that you obviously own! You make Nostradamus look painfully shy! HH x

11 years ago

seam to remember we were 15 points behind last season due to European fitba…. as far as your “sit back and then defend on the counter attack’. comment…. it’s a wise decision to work and prefect on this strategy considering the quality of the sides we are / will be playing in the CL

andy docherty
11 years ago

Re Stephen Fletcher – my understanding is that Celtic matched the valuation that Hibs had, but that Hibs didn’t want to sell him to another SPL team.
re Strachan – the last season Strachan was in charge the football was very poor (I’d say the same about O’Neill’s last 18 months) – my belief is that Strachan got stale far too quickly and needed to move on – I;ll always cherish him getting 3 in a row and the 2 last 16 in the CL, but when he left, I was glad (and I;ll admit, I thought Mowbray was going to be great).

11 years ago

I have commented on Tony Mowbray many times and my opinion has never altered. Anyone who watched his career at West Brom could only agree 100% with Frank Skinner’s summation. I reckon the fans were dancing in the streets of that particular area of Birmingham when they heard he was going. He led a half decent football team into a quagmire of defeats season after season and his after match interviews were as inspirational as a dying man’s in praise of a long life. He took the notion of good football to the level of banality i.e. the one below that of ridiculous. Pretty, pretty has to have results at the end of it. A similar approach destroyed poor Tommy Burns, though he was actually trying to raise the the game in Scotland from the Maginot Line approach of most teams to a level that had some use for a round ball. Tony might have been a very nice man but when I heard he was on his way to my beloved club in its then hour of need, I cringed to the Nth degree. Final word – just watch Middlebrough. They are experiencing a blip at the moment at the top of the championship. That will undoubtedly change under Tony’s kiss of death.

PS Ref. previous post. Ralph, apologies re email. My head is still in my frozen a**e on row D seat 20. I will get back to you.


Gerry Kelly
11 years ago

Great Article! Its a case of carefull what you wish for, Don’t Forget! All those people who called for Strachen to go and then it got really bad! I assume the top picute is taken that day they lost 4-3 at Aberdeen!

Tony P
11 years ago

Mogga arrived with a loser’s mentality. Both in his playing and management career.

The Celtic side he was a part of as a player was pitiful. And as a manager he had just lead WBA to relegation.

What was most galling about Mowbray was the total lack of fight his Celtic team possessed. The Bosch kicked us off the park in the first game at Mordor, and we hardly reacted. We missed out on numerous penalties in that game, and we heard hardly a peep from Mowbray. We drew 4 v 4 at Pittodrie in a must-win game and were humped 4 v 0 by St Mirren shortly after. The players’ concentration levels were atrocious.

Despite playing for Celtic, it appeared he had no clue whatsoever regarding the mental strength necessary to represent the club.

11 years ago

Tony the Mongo is the only person associated with Celtic whom I truly and totally despise. Everything about his managerial stint was wrong. Clueless strategy, ever-changing formation, scapegoating the players for his own mistakes, dismal transfer policy… He showed he had no respect for the club and the fans when he played the blame-game instead of admitting his own mistakes. A clueless idiot and a cunt of a man who ruined our transfer kitty on a bunch of useless duds. Splashed most of the Summer money on an immobile imposter of a striker, and than coupled that with signings of whimsical left back, an overweight forward, holding midfielder who made Evander Sno look like Clarence Seedorf and the the worst player I’ve seen at Celtic in terms of (complete lack of) skills (Josh Thompson that is). Also he should be attributed with damaging the confidence of the likes of McGeady and Samaras. The way he conducted himself after the St Mirren debacle was the final straw – since then I hate this ballbag with a passion. He actually made John Barnes seemed kinda OK in comparison.

Tyler Wilson
11 years ago

I always liked Mogga, and was happy enough to see him appointed. Clearly I was wrong. The problem is I didn’t really know much about him as a manager other than the media spin. I had the mistaken view that he was a young manager, going about things in the right way, and that like a David Moyes (eek, I know) he deserved his chance at a bigger club, to realize his potential etc etc etc. Of course, it all ended in tears, but at least we ended up with Lennon. And there is the rub…there are managers who just need an opportunity at a club, with good support and financial backing in order to grow and fully develop as managers.

Mogga is too nice a guy…too nice a guy to ever succeed in management. I’m not saying a good manager needs to be a prick (well being a prick to those outside the club helps) but you do need to have an edge and you cannot afford sentimentality. MON is probably the nicest man to have around for dinner, but it doesn’t matter how close you are to him, if you fail on the pitch, you will be frozen out. Anyway, I don’t disagree with the underlying rationale of ‘promoting’ a guy like Mowbary to a bigger and better job…the reality, though, is you really need to know the man you are getting and that he is a man made of the stuff for the job. Otherwise…well otherwise you have the painful memories of Love Street. Sigh.

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