Saturday 16 December 2017

Mowbray: Axed Celts no worry

New Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray insists he will have no problem working with Stephen McManus, Scott McDonald and Barry Robson despite selling them when he was in charge of Celtic.

With predecessor Gordon Strachan also returning to Scotland to sign Kevin Thomson and Kris Boyd from Rangers during the same close-season, Boro were installed as favourites to win the Championship title and return to the Premier League at their second attempt.

However, Strachan quit with the club 20th in the table -- their lowest football league position for 20 years -- while successive 1-0 defeats at Nottingham Forest and Norwich have since seen them slip to third from bottom.

Their disappointing start to the campaign comes after last season's unimpressive 11th-placed finish on the back of their relegation from the top flight in 2008/09.

Mowbray, the former Celtic, West Brom and Hibernian manager, has now been charged with the task of turning his hometown club around.

Mowbray has stressed the whole squad will start with a clean slate and he is convinced McManus, McDonald, Robson, Boyd and Thomson can cut it at Championship level despite not pulling up any trees as yet in their performances.

He said: "The fact is Gordon had worked with some of them and seen what professionals they are -- and they are good professionals -- but they weren't playing for me, the opportunity was there and it suited all parties at the time so those boys know that there was no fall-out with the manager or no animosity between us.

"They were all sitting in the front row when I had a meeting with them, looking me in the eye and hopefully looking forward to it and getting an opportunity.

"They will all get the same opportunities. The guy who has played one game for Middlesbrough, a young guy coming through, the seasoned professionals, it all starts level.

"All I ask them to do is to come in every day and work hard, be good professionals," Mowbray added.

"They are talented boys and driven footballers, and I know Gordon liked them because of their character and personality -- all those things are positives for me."

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