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Chick Young's view

Johan Mjallby and Neil Lennon
Johan Mjallby has joined his old team-mate Lennon as a first-team coach

Chick Young
By Chick Young
BBC Scotland football correspondent

When Tony Mowbray's head dipped almost into his lap in the wake of St Mirren's fourth goal on Wednesday night, I wondered if he had taken the opportunity to pen his letter of resignation.

The moment was Ally MacLeod-esque, curiously reminiscent of Argentina 32 years ago, when the then Scotland manager saw his job plummet into an abyss.

It was an undignified but inevitable end to a brief managerial encounter with Glasgow during which, in just nine months (long enough to give birth), an otherwise thoroughly decent man failed to develop the embryo of his idea to have Celtic playing a successful passing game.

Tony never embraced the concept of the street wisdom required to be a manager of either half of the Old Firm.

Second prizes don't count in a duopoly: 4-0 defeats by St Mirren are the TNT to the peaceful life of a football manager.

So who's next for shaving?

He's intelligent, witty and with a hearty laugh to endorse his wicked sense of humour. He doesn't suffer fools gladly, not at all in fact

Well, on the plus side, it strikes me that it's a right good time to take the job, in stark contrast, for example, to whoever will pick up the reins at Rangers when Walter Smith walks over the horizon.

Of the hard acts to follow, he is in the tungsten class.

And so enter Neil Francis Lennon, a chap with whom I am well acquainted and who patently does not suffer from a lack of the aforementioned street wisdom.

I play six-a-side football with him. Well, he plays, I command the old man's mess-about area. But it's regular: weekly for him, weakly for me.

He was ill-done by last summer, in terms of circumstances, persuaded by chief executive Peter Lawwell to sign a new contract when he could have gone elsewhere and then sidelined when Mowbray and his cronies, Mark Venus and Peter Grant, came in.

He was elbowed from the first-team picture and then slowly dragged back in just inside the frame, although hardly centre stage, allowed to attend games but not on the team coach.

The next stage of travel for Old Firm fixtures was the underground to Copland Road.

Had he forsaken the family saloon for that mode of transport, they may have needed an underground movement to protect him.

Lennon is passionately Celtic and he will grasp this opportunity.

Neil Lennon
Lennon was a popular figure as a player at Celtic

You can bet the phone line to Martin O'Neill will be red hot, just as Alex McLeish was never shy in calling Alex Ferguson. Good move - never underestimate the wisdom of your elders.

I like the bloke. And he is nothing like his public persona.

He's intelligent, witty and with a hearty laugh to endorse his wicked sense of humour. He doesn't suffer fools gladly, not at all in fact.

His honesty allowed him to talk in previous times about the depression that haunted him and, for all I know, still does.

It's just that in the banter of the dressing-room or over the post-match beer, you tend not to ask: "So are you still depressed then?" But he sure doesn't show it.

If he wins the Scottish Cup and achieves indications that he can turn his club around then surely the job will be his. It would be somewhere between rude and insane for the board not to give him the nod.

Celtic have endured a season - although it is not quite that if the Scottish Cup brings salvation - of misery and are yet again at a crossroads. Life at Parkhead has become an intersection, it seems.

They have taken the exit - if you assume the Scottish Premier League miracle is beyond them - in four competitions.

It seems to me that Tony Mowbray - and I did share the view of the Celtic board that he was a shrewd enough appointment at the time - never quite adjusted his sails to read the prevailing winds at Parkhead. It just wasn't his gig.


Which is not to say that he will not emerge again in calmer waters.

But, in the end, it was the business side of the game that did him in.

It was Dermot Desmond's decision, without a doubt, because he saw what a stay of execution would have done - shaved the attendance at Celtic Park to around 20,000.

And that at a time when season tickets go on sale; if the fans don't show, the manager has to go.

So good luck Mr Lennon - and if you need a man who can see a pass then you know where I am.

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see also
Lennon wants to succeed Mowbray
26 Mar 10 |  Celtic
Celtic sack manager Tony Mowbray
25 Mar 10 |  Celtic
Mowbray's Celtic reign in pictures
25 Mar 10 |  Scottish Premier

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