The runners and riders to replace Mowbray

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When St Mirren's Steven Thomson smashed the ball past Lukasz Zaluska to net his side's fourth and cap a famous victory over a woeful Celtic, Tony Mowbray must have known his time was up.

The 4-0 defeat to the Buddies was Celtic's worst in Scotland, outside Old Firm derbies, for 30 years. And it only added insult to injury to recall that rivals Rangers had just beaten Gus MacPherson's side with only nine men in a cup final.

FEATURE: Buddies' cup dreams shattered by nine-man Gers

The Mowbray experiment has been a massive failure at a huge cost to Celtic. West Brom were paid £2million compensation when he joined the club last year and a further £12million was handed to Mowbray to build a team capable of winning the SPL and competing in Europe.

The Hoops missed out on the £15million Champions League pot of gold when they crashed out of the competition during the qualification stages to a slick Arsenal side and with Rangers destined to retain their title, the Hoops look set to miss out on the financial benefits of playing in Europe's premier club competition once again. Even the arrival of Spurs striker Robbie Keane, reportedly on wages of £65,000 per week, was not enough to stem the tide.

Mowbray won only 17 of his 30 league games and departs with the side trailing league leaders Rangers by 10 points having played two games more. Admittedly, luck was rarely on Mowbray's side during his brief spell but the SPL is an unforgiving environment for an underachieving Old Firm manager.

"Oh no..."

Former players Neil Lennon and Johan Mjallby have been enlisted as the caretaker team to bring some pride back to a calamitous season on a game-by-game basis.

But who will be the permanent successor to Tony Mowbray?

The Likely Lads
Should Neil Lennon and Johan Mjallby manage to galvanise the Celtic players then there is no reason why they couldn't be handed a longer term deal. The likelihood is the pair will be given until the end of the season and winning the Scottish Cup will be their ultimate aim. The Celtic board may be willing to look past their lack of managerial experience if they manage a cup win and a decent run of results in the league.

Paul Lambert has worked wonders at Norwich City but has already said he would not be interested in replacing Mowbray. However, the former captain may find the opportunity too much to resist should Celtic come calling.

Willie McStay, currently in charge of Hungarian side Ujpest Dozsa, also has very close links with the club and is likely to be in the thoughts of the Celtic board. Former players Roy Keane and John Collins would also be expected to appear on any shortlist.

Worth a Flutter
Mark Hughes would be a relatively popular choice amongst the Celtic faithful. The former Manchester United star played his testimonial match against the Hoops 16 years ago but he would perhaps prefer to take the reins at West Ham should under-fire manager Gianfranco Zola be given the boot.

The more likely Hughes to get the Celtic job could be Hibernian's John Hughes, although his stock has plummeted following his club's recent poor run of form that culminated in a Scottish Cup exit to First Division Ross County earlier this week.

With Portsmouth destined for Premier League relegation, Avram Grant is another manager who may fancy a change of scenery north of the border. He would be an intriguing appointment, although what the Israeli's knowledge and opinion of Scottish football is remains to be seen.

Outside Chance
Henrik Larsson, currently managing Swedish side Landskrona, is idolised by the Celtic faithful and would be given a hero's return to Parkhead. However the former striker is still cutting his teeth as a manager and the board would probably prefer a safer pair of hands to steady the ship.

Out-of-work duo Alan Curbishley and David O'Leary may be considering dusting off their CVs, while Scotland manger Craig Levein and Wolves boss Mick McCarthy could be sounded out but are unlikely to leave their current posts.

Other names in the frame include Jose Mourinho's former assistant Steve Clarke (currently on Zola's coaching staff at West Ham), MK Dons boss Paul Ince and Twente manger Steve McClaren, who would certainly need to pack his brolly if he fancied making the switch to Glasgow.

Slim to None
Everton boss David Moyes, who played for Celtic once upon a time, would be the No.1 choice amongst the majority of the club's support but it would be astounding if he opted to risk his blossoming reputation by returning to his homeland.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle was offered the Celtic job before Mowbray but is also unlikely to fancy the unenviable task of restoring some pride back in the east end of Glasgow after a season of discontent.

Clearly there are no shortage of candidates and in the coming weeks expect everyone from Gerard Houllier to Phil Brown to throw their names forward. It will be an onerous task to find a suitable replacement that will appease the disenchanted Hoops support.

The Celtic board have failed once with Mowbray – they won't want to get the wrong man again.

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