Celtic have since parted company with Mowbray following an utterly dreadful campaign which saw an early exit from both the Champions and Europa Leagues. Worse, Celtic’s horrific domestic form under Mowbray culminated in an embarrassing 4-0 defeat away to St. Mirren and that proved the final straw for the board of directors.
Mowbray’s damning record of 13 losses in 45 games in charge is not acceptable in a Scottish league and cup environment where Celtics’ superior buying power and squad strength dictates that they should be a lot closer than ten points from runaway leaders and bitter rivals Rangers.
Mowbray dismantled much of the original squad he inherited and bought in a host of new signings including an on-loan Robbie Keane. The new acquisitions simply didn’t gel and Mowbray’s side perfomed like a bunch of players who had never met during recent outings.
The fact that Roy Keane’s name is appearing in much of the English tabloids today as a potential replacement for the Celtic hot-seat is surprising.
Keane’s record at Ipswich this season makes for disappointing reading yet the similarities with Mowbray’s time in charge with Celtic are stark.
Keane brought in a plethora of new players in the close season to the Portman Road club but (like with Mowbray and Celtic) they have failed to gel.
Ipswich Town find themselves marooned in the bottom half of the Championship table and only nine points clear of the relegation scrap.
Chief executive Simon Clegg has insisted the club remain fully committed to keeping Keane in charge at Portman Road but the Ipswich board expected to be challenging for a play-off berth this season and not looking over their shoulders at possibly dropping into League 1.
Keane himself has naturally distanced himself from this morning’s press speculation. But an Irishman in charge of a Celtic side crying out for stability might be a potential offer too hard to resist for the former-Man Utd and Celtic star should he lose his job at Portman Road.
True, Celtic’s current incumbent Neil Lennon is a former player and Northern Irish International himself and deserves a chance to turn things around.
Nevertheless, for all Lennon’s close ties with the club he doesn’t possess the box-office appeal and statement of intent that the appointment of Roy Keane might make. You can be certain the Celtic board would consider Keane when they look at the ticket-sales and increase in revenue Sunderland enjoyed once the former Republic of Ireland international took over at the Stadium of Light.
The problem is, in a footballing sense, the appointment of Roy Keane is not what Celtic need right now. The Glasgow giants need stability and an experienced manager such as Roy Hodgson, Marcello Lippi or even Frank Rijkaard would currently be a better bet than Keane, who has only a handful of seasons’ experience with Sunderland and Ipswich under his belt.
Celtic needs someone to come in and instantly close the gap to Rangers while performing the equivalent of open-heart surgery on a lop-sided (in terms of talent) first-team squad put together by Mowbray.
For all Keane’s managerial acumen and ability to inspire players, his work at Ipswich to date has been disappointing. It has taken a season and a half to get the players in he hoped would propel Ipswich up the table, but 18 months on and the Tractor Boys still haven’t gotten out of first gear.
In fairness to Simon Clegg he has backed his manager financially and also come out with the dreaded vote of confidence. Keane will get at least the summer from Ipswich to get things right but if results don’t improve at the beginning of the 2010-11 campaign then the axe will surely have to fall.
Celtic need someone to come in and hit the ground running and most likely use much of the current squad for the remainder of this and start of next season. They cannot afford to re-build wholesale all over again. A manager with a record of accomplishment for turning around the fortunes of a squad whose confidence has been shattered in recent months is what is needed and fast.
Experience is the key for Celtic to return to the top and for all Roy Keane’s admirable qualities as a manager he just doesn’t fit the bill.
Ger McCarthy is author of Off Centre Circle, which chronicles the curious life of a West Cork League junior footballer.