Thursday, 25 March 2010

Tony Mowbray: Our Part In His Downfall

Scottish Premier League: St Mirren 4, Celtic 0, Greenhill Road

So you’re a team that has dominated a national cup final against one of the country’s biggest teams, and saw them reduced to 10 men, then 9 men, and then against all of your rising expectation you see the nine men floor your team with a stunning counter attacking goal which owes as much to top class technique as to your defenders being out of position.  you see your team lose.  Then 3 days later the other biggest team in your country come to visit.  If you’d have mentioned that the result would be 4-0 you would have though that Celtic would have over-run a dispirited St Mirren side, and you would have heard the faint sound of the SPL trap door beginning to open.

The thing to say about St Mirren’s instantly legendary win over Celtic is how utterly insane the whole thing was.  This was supposed to be the second best team in Scotland.  St Mirren spent the first 20 odd minutes feeling themselves into the game, a bit like someone the day after a hard night out feeling their way into the day.  We were all tense, because we were expecting an absolute hiding from Celtic, regardless of the fact that this was not Celtic in one of their less mighty incarnations.  Samaras had a shot saved early on by Gallacher, and Keane also had an excellent opportunity to put Celtic one up.  Had either shot gone in, Celtic probably would have found their wind and won by a hatful.  as it was Celtic in the first 25 minutes played like a team in desperate need of a spark, holding on to possession but not really doing anything with it.

The game changed 7 minutes before half time, when a couple of half clearence/half headers saw the ball fall to Andy Dorman just outside the box.  Normally he needs no invitation to score, that this was only his third of the season is proof as to how much this has not been a great season for Dorman.  Celtic were still a threat, Keane had a chance to equalise within minutes of the re-start.  Then St Mirren got their second when Dargo played a couple of one-two’s with Mehmet, which carved a hole in Celtic’s defence for Steven Thompson to score.

The damaging goal though was the third goal.  Thompson headed the ball through to Dorman who was in space and nabbed his fourth of the season.  At this point the confidence drained from Celtic, their team, their fans and very possibly their manager.  Thomson’s second of the night was really the icing on the cake as St Mirren registered their first league win over Celtic since April 1990, and their first home league win over Celtic since September 1989, and their heaviest win over Celtic since 1959. For the St Mirren fans it was the perfect tonic, though it was tempting fate for the St Mirren fans to sing “You’re getting sacked in the morning” as they have a history of sacking managers after wins against Celtic.  St Mirren now have to build on that win, with another result against Aberdeen on Saturday.

For Celtic, the story doesn’t end there.  With the League championship all but gone and only really the Scottish Cup left to play for, Celtic decided to dispense with their Management team of Mowbray, Venus and Grant.  Truth be told, the loss at St Mirren probably was the last straw for Mowbray.  If your manager insists in the press that a game is an important game and your opponents are not to be taken lightly and the players then proceed to play expecting St Mirren to fall apart like a house of cards, it’s clear that Mowbray and his management team had no discipline over the players.  Sure Celtic dominated the first half hour of the first half, but there was no real urgency.  After St Mirren got their first, the confidence started to trickle away.

Now the main question is where do Celtic go from here?  Neil Lennon has been installed as caretaker manager, which is a sensible move.   After all, Celtic cannot afford another panic appointment.

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