Tony Mowbray will be looking to address the failings in the Celtic side that Gordon Strachan has left him with. One of the most glaring failings of the current squad is the lack of a decent left back, a position that consistently plagued Strachan under his tenure.
Who can forget Mo Camara, or the ‘Ross Wallace Experiment’?
Lee Naylor did particularly well in his first season at Parkhead, but his form has tailed off and consequently it left him looking sub-standard.
To compensate, Strachan pitted the likes of centre half Darren O’Dea, midfielder Barry Robson, and right back Mark Wilson in the position with varying degrees of success last season, but seemed incapable of doing the old fashioned thing, which was to actively scour the transfer market, and pay a couple of million quid for a player that plays the role for a living.
With the impending arrival of Mowbray, one player springs instantly to my attention as a viable solution to this problem, a player that surprisingly has not been the focus of any media speculation: Birmingham City’s David Murphy.
Signed by Alex McLeish in 2008 for £1.5 m from Hibs, Murphy, 25, made 44 appearances for the Midlands club, before being struck down by injury.
Murphy has stated his confidence in being ready and fit for the start of the new season, but in the meantime his place has been taken by Franck Queudrue, who went on to become Birmingham’s Player of the Year.
Murphy may thus welcome the chance to once again work under his former mentor Mowbray, as he will no doubt find it difficult to regain the left back berth due to the impressive form of Queudrue.
Celtic could expect to pay around £1 m for his services, hardly a huge amount for a player who showed class and composure whenever he turned out in the SPL for Hibs. What he lacks in pace, he makes up for in his footballing ability—he was a vital component of Hibs free-flowing, attacking style of play.
Indeed, perusing the Hibs fan forum, hibeesbounce.com, some commentators go as far as to say he was one of the classiest players they had seen in a Hibs jersey, which is no small compliment, considering Gary Caldwell, Scott Brown, Derek Riordan, and Guillaume Buezelin were amongst his team mates at the time.
Murphy, importantly, would not be short of familiar faces at Parkhead—both Brown and Caldwell are team regulars—and with Steven Fletcher being mooted as another Celtic target, we could well see the best of Mowbrays talented, yet raw, crop of kids from his time at Hibs joining forces at Parkhead, an enticing prospect if ever there was one.
The only notable omissions from that period are Kevin Thomson, who signed for Rangers, and Derek Riordan, who blew his big chance at Celtic Park before returning to Hibs last year.
How they must regret their choices now as Mowbray takes over the Celtic hotseat, ready to bring his swashbuckling brand of exciting football east from Leith to Glasgow, via the Midlands.