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?