Mowbray up for Celtic Cup boost
Tony Mowbray denies Celtic's Active Nation Scottish Cup quarter-final tie against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park tomorrow has taken on added significance in light of the Hoops' seemingly hopeless title challenge.
The Parkhead club have slipped 13 points behind Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders Rangers with only 10 games remaining.
The popular belief is that the Scottish Cup offers the Celtic boss his only hope of glory this season as well as the chance to avert the pressure that would surely come to bear with a trophy-less season.
However, Mowbray tried to play down the trip to Ayrshire, where his side's SPL hopes suffered a debilitating blow last month when they lost 1-0 in loan signing Robbie Keane's debut.
“The club tries to finish every season with a trophy — it's no more important or less important this year,” he said.
“Every season we try and win every competition we are in and every year we try and win the Scottish Cup, it is big part of the club's history.
“We strive to win every football match. That's the aim.
“There are 10 games still go in the league and we will keep fighting on that front and try and win them all.
“But this cup game at Kilmarnock is not more or less important than it always has been at this club.”
Mowbray insists he is at ease with the “hysteria” he claims is currently surrounding the Parkhead club and himself as the league title appears to be heading over the horizon.
“Pressure on football managers has always been there and the bigger the club, the greater the pressure,” the former Hibernian and West Brom boss said. “It has become more intense as the media has grown. That's what football is and you shouldn't complain.
“I'd like to think I sit here and complain too much. I like to think I'm pretty comfortable with it and the hysteria that the Scottish football media, especially in the west of Scotland, like to build to a crescendo. It doesn't really interest me. Everyone else seems to get concerned about it but I just get on with the job. You work very hard for six years to get the opportunity to manage such a fantastic club with huge expectations and when you get here you shouldn't be moaning about it.
“You have to work very hard and try and get results and win trophies.
“This weekend too we strive to edge towards a trophy. That's the task. Is the pressure on managers? Yes, but there always has been.
“As I said, there is expectation on us every year to get to cup finals, to win cup finals and to have days out at Hampden for the supporters and that's what we will strive to do. If we do, great, we are one step closer to a cup final, but Kilmarnock are a decent side and that will make life very difficult for us.”
Meanwhile, former Celtic hero Lubomir Moravcik has urged the club to do everything possible to keep Robbie Keane and mould their future around him.
“Maybe this is the future for Celtic — build the team around Robbie Keane as a captain and maybe as the main man for Celtic, because he has a couple of years ahead of him,” said Moravcik.
“To finish at Celtic would be perfect for him, the club and the fans. He's got a winning mentality, this is good for Celtic. They have to bring players who are good with him up front.
“It's up to the manager to build a new team because this team is not good enough if they don't have results.”