Celtic told: Get Keane at all costs

ROY Keane has been linked with the vacant Celtic manager's job, but it is an ex-Ipswich Town boss who is more likely to end up in the hot seat at Parkhead.

Derek Davis

ROY Keane has been linked with the vacant Celtic manager's job, but it is an ex-Ipswich Town boss who is more likely to end up in the hot seat at Parkhead.

Tony Mowbray, who was caretaker Town manager between the departure of George Burley and arrival of Joe Royle in 2002, is the favourite to put the spark back into the Scottish giants.

Mowbray remains a legend among Celtic fans following his playing days with a club that parted company with Gordon Strachan after finishing runner-up to Rangers in the Scottish Premier League at the weekend.

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Mowbray, who managed successfully at Hibernian for two years, still has two years of his contract remaining at West Brom, where he is also a big favourite with supporters despite the midland club's relegation from the Premier League.

Prestigious managerial jobs do not come around that often, and as a former Celtic player Keane's name was always going to be in the frame once Strachan packed his bags.

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Keane, however, cleared the decks with Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans in the weeks leading up to his appointment to replace Jim Magilton, and their working relationship has intensified in the few weeks that Keane has been at Portman Road.

Keane is comfortable with his freedom to run the Ipswich team as he feels fit in his two-year contract, and relishes the challenge to back Evans' judgement and lead the Blues back to the top flight.

One ex-Hoops player who feels Celtic should make Keane their number one target is Charlie Nicholas.

“I'd be battering down Roy Keane's door,” said Nicholas.

“Roy would bring knowledge, discipline and brutal honesty. But to convince him Celtic was the club for him you would need to give complete control of the football affairs.

“Celtic need to make football the priority. They are going backwards as a football team and a manager has to be the key man - not the chief executive.

“It's time to give the manager the proper resources to run the club - with football success the priority.

“Now Gordon has gone the club faces a stark choice - does it hire someone who would continue to act as a glove puppet of the board or does it go in another direction?”

Mowbray, who scored when Ipswich beat Barnsley to win the First Division play-off at Wembley in 2000, discovered last week that he must trim the size of his senior squad for next season from 31 to 20 players.

And he had been told before the end of the campaign by chairman Jeremy Peace that there will be no new funds available for transfer dealings as he looks to reshape his squad.

Mowbray has to decide whether the chance to return to Scotland with one of the Old Firm is an attractive proposition should Celtic firm up their reported interest.

Other contenders for the Parkhead job include Mark McGhee, Mick McCarthy, Owen Coyle and David Moyes.

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