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Mowbray leaves Celtic

Tony Mowbray today left Celtic following last night's humiliating 4-0 thrashing at St Mirren.

It is believed Mowbray met chief executive Peter Lawwell at the Hoops' Lennoxtown training ground, though the club were refusing to officially confirm or deny their manager's departure.

Yesterday evening's reverse in Paisley means Celtic are 10 points behind Rangers, who also have two games in hand.

It has also been reported that assistant manager Mark Venus and first-team coach Peter Grant have left the club.

Last night's defeat was the 13th of Mowbray's tenure, which began when he succeeded Gordon Strachan in the summer.

He joined from West Brom, who were understood to have 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 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."

Mowbray had a long playing career at Middlesbrough before his switch to Celtic and later moved on to Ipswich, where he took his first steps into coaching. He had a brief spell as caretaker boss at Portman Road after the sacking of George Burley before becoming a manager in his own right at Hibs.

Mowbray led the Edinburgh club to back-to-back top-four finishes in the SPL in 2005 and 2006, after which he left for West Brom.

After losing the Coca-Cola Championship play-off final to Derby, the Baggies won the title and were promoted the following season.

But Mowbray's attacking philosophy cost them dear and they finished bottom of the Barclays Premier League last season.

Norwich City's manager Paul Lambert and former Manchester City boss Mark Hughes have been linked with the vacant Celtic job.

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