With the days racing by and the players gaining fitness, Tony Mowbray’s vision for Celtic is growing clearer.
The manager has now had the chance to assess his team in the first friendly of the season against Brisbane Roar and unveiled his second signing of the season in midfielder Landry NGuemo.
Like his former Nancy team-mate, Marc-Antoine Fortune, the highly-rated midfielder opted for Celtic ahead of several Premiership clubs and the manager believes that he will add quality and depth to the squad.
“We are happy to have Landry on board and he creates competition in a part of the field that we are a little bit lighter in than we were last year, with (Shunsuke) Nakamura and (Paul) Hartley moving on,” said Tony Mowbray.
“It’s a part of the pitch that we needed to add numbers too, he’s a young boy who can come in and increase the competition for places in the side and I am looking forward to working with him and seeing how he gets on.”
The Cameroon internationalist arrives on a season-long loan deal, with Celtic having first option to sign him on a permanent contract at the end of the campaign.
It is a style of transfer that has grown in popularity in recent years and a system that has served Mowbray well during his time in England and he believes will reap similar rewards for Celtic.
“It’s something that we did pretty successfully at West Brom to be fair,” he explained. “It makes sense to me, when you are bringing in players with a view to signing them, it suits everybody.
“You don’t want a player who ultimately, after six months, doesn’t like the culture, the league or finds the language too hard and it works vice versa, for the team.
“If the boy doesn’t settle, if he’s not happy, you are not stuck with a player who has three or four years to run on his contract, so this suits everybody.
“Everything is locked in place, if he’s happy and we are happy we just have to push the button and it’s done. So rather than spending money at the front end you give everyone a chance to make the deal work first.” (celtic.fc)
Celts Prepare for Euro Challenge
Celtic face an arduous trip to Moscow in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League to meet a side that is already midway through their domestic campaign.
The draw could hardly have been more testing, with Celtic up against Dinamo Moscow at home in the first leg on Wednesday, July 29 and traveling to the Russian capital the following week, Wednesday August 5.
But giving his reaction to the draw, Tony Mowbray insisted that he had no preference and that his players will be ready for the challenge.
“We are happy to take whoever it is and we will look forward to it when it comes around,” he said. “I had no preference whatsoever.
"You only get who you get in cup competitions, I don’t ever sit back after cup competitions and think ‘we could have done with missing that one’, you get what you get and you look forward to it.
“While generally you would like to play the final game at home, in a strange sort of way, after the traveling we have done, it’s probably a benefit that we are at home first. When we get back from Wembley we will have a day or to get ready for it.
“I just had a look at Dinamo and they are 13 games into their season. I am sure they are a quality side and like all Russian teams will be very fit, organized and very methodical. I am sure they will give us a tough test, but they will be looking at the draw thinking that it’s a big ask for them as well.
“It’s a game of football, it’s where we want to play and a level that we believe this club should be competing at, year-in, year-out. We will be ready to go and compete against tough opposition and hopefully we will come through it.
“If we do, we will have another tough obstacle to overcome to get through to the group stages. Nobody thinks it will be easy - we know it’s going to be tough and we will see what happens.”
The manager reiterated that he has been pleased with the response of his squad during the first few weeks of pre-season and that he is continuing to assess the senior and younger players, as well as those on the fringes of the squad.
“Everybody has trained very well and I have purposefully kept the group together, although I couldn’t take 20-odd of them off to Australia," he said.
“Generally we keep the group together so that I can assess the younger players and fringe players around it and on a whole I have been impressed with them.
“They have a great attitude and sometimes young players just need an opportunity,” he added. “If they don’t get that opportunity you will never know how they will perform and we will wait and see. There are games coming up when one or two will get an opportunity.” (celtic.fc)
Manager's Words of Support for John Hartson
Tony Mowbray took time to offer words of support to former Celtic striker, John Hartson, as he continues his fight against cancer.
The manager has already experienced the ‘warmth’ and ‘support’ of ‘the Celtic family’ when he coped with the loss of his wife, Bernadette, while a player at Celtic Park and he hopes that Hartson can draw similar comfort from their thoughts and prayers.
“I felt it a lot of years ago when I was at this football club and the force of the Celtic family, when it’s behind you, becomes very evident at times of adversity,” he said.
“Hopefully John will feel the warmth of the Celtic family during his recovery period and return to good health.
“From a personal point of view, I had the pleasure to work with him for a couple of years at West Brom. It was a difficult time for John, but he still went through it with great integrity and honesty.
“I felt we developed an honest relationship as a coach and his player at a time when John wasn’t featuring in the team. That respect came from an understanding of what each other was going through and I can only wish him the best.”
The manager added: “Bottom line, he’s a good man, his heart’s in the right place. John Hartson, whatever he has been through in life, through the highs and lows of his football career, he has proved to be a good person.
“We wish him well and our thoughts and prayers are with him and the people who love him.” (Celtic.fc)