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Page last updated at 22:33 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

McNeill backs Celtic for England


Lay-off league leaders - McNeill

By John Barnes

Billy McNeill says Celtic would prosper as a football club both on and off the field if they were to join the Barclays Premier League in England.

But the club's greatest-ever captain does not believe it will happen.

"I often think the way ahead for Celtic would be to get invited into the English league," he said.

"Maybe one day it might happen that Celtic will be in that league. But, I've got to be honest, I don't see it coming at all."

McNeill was speaking at the launch of his DVD "Cesar: The Billy McNeill Story".

But his comments came two days before a proposal for a two-tier Barclays Premier League involving Celtic and Rangers, suggested by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside, is due to be discussed by Premier League clubs.

"It's the wealthiest league in the world," said McNeill. "How can you compete with clubs that have got that type of money?

We should maybe relax a wee bit when criticising the team, because they are sitting top of the league

Billy McNeill

"They buy good players, they've got loads of them. It's very difficult for us to do it."

McNeill, who played more than 800 competitive matches for the Glasgow club, believes the current level of criticism of manager Tony Mowbray and the team is over the top.

"What's happened is, Tony's come in and he's switched things just a little bit so he can get to grips with how he wants his team playing," said McNeill, himself a former Celtic and Manchester City manager.

"We should maybe relax a wee bit when criticising the team, because they are sitting top of the league. What else are they supposed to do?"

McNeill, a commanding centre-half in his day, has sympathy for Celtic's current crop of central defenders for the criticism that's come their way because of recent performances.

Glenn Loovens, Stephen McManus and Gary Caldwell have all been the target of fans displeasure following poor Europa League results and Saturday's 3-3 draw with Falkirk, presently bottom of the Scottish Premier League.

"The boys are having a rough time at the moment, " McNeill admitted.

"But I honestly think they're decent players and they'll work together to put in a right positive performance and show the fans they can play.

"Two of them are in the Scotland squad, so somebody must like them. They must have some ability."

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see also
Falkirk 3-3 Celtic
08 Nov 09 |  Scottish Premier
Moyes backs two-tier league plan
06 Nov 09 |  Premier League
Old Firm switch to be discussed
19 Sep 09 |  Premier League

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