Tony Mowbray has promised a swift return to Belfast for Celtic — certainly a lot quicker than the 25 years it took them to come back after their 1984 visit to Cliftonville.
Revenge may be too strong a word, considering that it was a friendly, but the Bhoys manager definitely has something to make up for after seeing his youthful team lost 3-0 to the Reds on Tuesday night.
Without shouting it from the rooftops Cliftonville did harbour the hope that Tuesday night’s 130th anniversary celebration game would pass off well and lead to a full Celtic team coming over in the not too distant future.
And it looks very much like they will get their wish.
“ I personally would like to come back with a stronger team and so the people at Cliftonville could see a Celtic team that we could really call a Celtic team and play in a Celtic manner,” said Mowbray, who is now busy preparing his team for the visit of Motherwell today after 22 members of the club’s playing staff were away playing for their countries earlier in the week.
“For Cliftonville it is probably a good result, because it leaves a bit of a needle in my stomach to think that we’ll come back shortly and try to put that right.”
Mowbray showed the visit to Solitude full respect.
Although he handed responsibility for the team to Neil Lennon and Danny McGrain for the night and sat in the stand for the first-half, the fact that he was in Belfast in the first place was testimony as to how he treated the match.
“It was a great occasion and there was a great atmosphere in the stadium,” said Mowbray.
“I am pleased for the people at Cliftonville that they managed to put the game on.
“I am sure there was a lot of hard work went into it and the team on the pitch was a credit to the work that everyone around the place has put in.
“Hopefully they enjoyed it — we didn’t enjoy it too much — but we had a young team out and it showed. I spoke to a few people from Cliftonville at a coaching course over in England and it showed me that the people of this club care about the club and it’s development.
“I also met a gentleman from the club — I am not sure what role he plays — at a dinner at Celtic Park recently and I gave my word that if the opportunity came I would be here.
“I am glad I did because it gave me an opportunity to have a look at some young players whom I haven’t seen a lot of yet.
“There is no reserve league running in the Scottish Premier League this season so the team has played a lot of away fixtures in England.”
Meanwhile, Celtic have accused the Scottish Football Association's disciplinary process of being “disparate and arbitrary” following the decision to uphold Glenn Loovens' ban for his challenge on Maurice Edu.
But, 24 hours later, the club insisted they were “justified” in challenging the decision and suggested they were being unfairly targeted by the SFA, who they claim have ignored similar incidents involving other teams.
A Celtic spokesperson said: “We still do not understand the procedure by which Glenn Loovens and Scott McDonald were referred for review and other similar incidents in recent months have not been. The process seems to be disparate and arbitrary.
“Our objective is to ensure that these processes are applied fairly, consistently and in a transparent manner, for the benefit of all clubs and players.”