Mowbray leaves Celtic following thrashing

Tony Mowbray's troubled nine-month reign as Celtic boss was at an end today after the club announced his departure.

The 46-year-old's exit followed last night's 4-0 Clydesdale Bank Premier League thrashing at St Mirren, which left the Hoops 10 points behind arch-rivals Rangers having played two games more.

It is believed Mowbray met chief executive Peter Lawwell at Celtic's Lennoxtown training ground today when the decision was taken to end his short tenure.

Assistant manager Mark Venus and Peter Grant have also lost their jobs, with Neil Lennon appointed interim manager.

Chairman John Reid said: "On behalf of the board and everyone at Celtic Football Club, I would like to offer Tony Mowbray my thanks and sincere best wishes for the future.

"Tony is held in great affection by Celtic fans and it is obviously with great disappointment that we make today's statement.

"During his period here, Tony has always acted with great dignity as he has done today.

"We are all Celtic supporters, faithful through and through, Tony included.

"We are all disappointed at the way things have gone this season.

"However, as supporters, we will collectively build again to re-establish the club to its pre-eminent position within Scottish football."

Chief executive Peter Lawwell added: "This is a very sad day for everyone at Celtic.

"Tony is a very fine man and someone who I know is passionate about the club he served so well as a player.

"Clearly, we have had a difficult season and results have not been as we would have hoped.

"Tony is equally disappointed at some of our results this season but, working so closely with him, I know that throughout his period as manager he has always given the club his total and absolute commitment.

"Tony will always maintain a strong affection for Celtic and I am sure he will always be highly thought of within the Celtic family. He is a man who demonstrates decency and integrity in everything he does.

"I have enjoyed an excellent relationship with him and I certainly wish Tony, Mark Venus and Peter Grant all the very best for the future."

Last night's defeat was the 13th of Mowbray's reign after he succeeded Gordon Strachan in the summer.

Mowbray joined from West Brom, who reportedly secured around £2million in compensation for his services.

However, the former Hibernian manager was not Celtic's first choice, with Owen Coyle turning the job down and Roberto Martinez also reportedly approached.

Mowbray was charged with bringing an attractive brand of football to Parkhead, which fans felt was lacking towards the end of Strachan's reign.

The new manager suffered an early setback when Celtic lost the first leg of their Champions League third qualifying round match to Dinamo Moscow.

They bounced back in the second leg to set up a play-off round tie with Arsenal but were thrashed 5-1 on aggregate.

Things initially went well in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League but Celtic's Europa League campaign never recovered from an early setback and they crashed out of the competition before the end of the group stage.

Their SPL campaign began to unravel after they lost the first Old Firm derby of the season at Ibrox.

They tossed away leads in a series of games as defensive frailty began to undermine their title bid, while they also crashed out of the Co-operative Insurance Cup at home to Hearts.

By January, they were seven points adrift in the SPL and Mowbray set about dismantling the squad, bringing in eight new players during the transfer window.

The shock arrival of Robbie Keane on loan from Tottenham was greeted by thousands of jubilant fans on transfer deadline day.

But the Republic of Ireland international's debut summed up Mowbray's reign, Celtic losing at Kilmarnock for the first time in nine years.

Keane's goals almost single-handedly won Celtic games in both the SPL and Active Nation Scottish Cup but he could not prevent them slipping 10 points behind Rangers following last month's third Old Firm derby of the season.

Despite results, Mowbray repeatedly refused to deviate from his passing principles but last night witnessed the first admission that his football philosophy was perhaps not suited to the Scottish game.

But he also could not resist a dig at Rangers in the process, telling BBC Scotland: "Rangers have been very consistent - they haven't lost four goals in any game.

"They set up differently - maybe that's the way to go.

"Maybe it isn't a league for trying to force the game and be expansive - maybe it is a league for playing defensive, negative football and having quality up front to counter-attack."

Reacting to his departure, Mowbray said: "Naturally, I am very disappointed to be leaving Glasgow Celtic.

"I am very proud to have not only managed but also played for a club with such great tradition and that has tremendous roots in football history.

"I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all of the players and also to my staff who supported me so well. Finally, I would like to wish the club every success in the future."

League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan said: "It is disappointing that Celtic have parted company with Tony despite being in charge for less than a year, especially when taking into account that the club still have a great chance of silverware this season having reached the semi-finals of the Active Nation Scottish Cup.

"I am positive that a manager of Tony's calibre, with his success at WBA and Hibernian, and with an overall managerial win ratio of a soaring 45% in 297 matches in charge, will be back in management in the not too distant future."

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