Celtic boss Tony Mowbray may not have the financial wherewithal of the European elite at this moment in time but the Celtic boss has stressed that he will still endeavour to put together a team that will be able to compete at the highest level. The Atlantic League may indeed become a reality but the manager insists that he has to operate in the here and now.
"We are aware that other people are talking about an Atlantic league, so it is very important that we keep our ear to the ground on all that," said the boss. "I think Celtic and Rangers will listen to whatever is being talked about, in terms of change. But I am just seven league games into this job at Celtic. Right now my goal is to win enough matches to win the SPL for Celtic, and then go and play in the Champions League and see how we do there. And with every transfer window I will try to get together a group of players that could try to punch above their weight in European competition, with a style that is synonymous with this club, which is attractive and entertaining football."
Money talks, unfortunately, and Mowbray is well aware of the magnitude of his task and he looks back at Martin O'Neill's Celtic side with envy. "The reality is there on the pitch for all to see." he said. "Teams have got pretty good players because they've got the finance to bring those players in. But I've still got a responsibility to try to build a team that can go on to compete, regardless of how much the other clubs are spending.
"My remit here is clear and my teams are all about trying to entertain." he continued. "But with due respect, I haven't got a Henrik Larsson, I haven't got a Neil Lennon, I haven't got Alan Thompson's left foot, I haven't got John Hartson's power and size, I haven't got a Bobo Balde, who can head anything that comes his way. This is a different time now. There is a different level of finance at both Old Firm clubs. We haven't got the Premiership quality of footballers that we had at this club five or six years ago. But, within the means that we have got, we are still trying to do our very best, and trying to win, hopefully with style."
Shaun Maloney pulled out of Scotland's trip to Japan last week because he needed treatment for an achilles injury and the boss admitted that the little midfielder was causing him some anxiety. "Shaun is a concern to me," said Mowbray. "We've got some big games coming up but I'm not sure if Shaun can continue to play week in, week out. He's fit, and he is training, but he has played a lot of football. Both he and Aiden McGeady put in a real hard shift every week, and when I look back on Shaun's injury record, I think he is one we need to keep half an eye on and try to protect. I don't want to flood him with football to the point where he breaks down.
"I think Shaun suffers from a little bit of tendonitis, maybe from over-use." he said. "These things are always down to the genetics of the individual. Shaun is an explosive type of player on the field, who puts in high-intensity work and running on the field, so I just feel we need to protect him. I've never seen a player play with the intensity that he does."