|Farewell Stevie Bhoy|
|Farewell Stevie Bhoy|
|Written by St Anthony|
|Friday, 16 July 2010 09:13|
In the summer of 2005 Stephen McManus languished in the anonymity of the Celtic reserve side. Tommy Burns at that time was on record as saying that the big man was the best centre back in the country outwith the Old Firm but until then few Celtic fans had seen him in action. It was only when Laursen, Henchoz and Valgaeren departed in the summer of 2005 that Stephen saw daylight in his Celtic career.
Tommy Burns persuaded the big man to give it one more go and when the disaster in Bratislava occurred it was the end of the line for Stan Varga and McManus took his chance. After a rocky start in the 4-4 draw at Fir Park he settled into a fine partnership with the towering giant that was Bobo Balde which helped drive Celtic to the 2006 title.
We were not to know it then but the first season was to be his finest. Working with Balde was ideal with big Bobo, a right footer attacking the ball, with McManus, on the left sweeping up behind, making a good partnership.The problem arose in late 2006 with the ostracisation of Balde and the arrival of Gary Caldwell and Steven Pressley, both of whom, in my opinion, were Strachan poodles and not up to Celtic standards. Without the dominant Balde to attack the ball then Celtic’s defence became weak and Stephen’s flaws became more obvious.
Surprisingly for a man with a decent Celtic pedigree there was a certain element of the Celtic support who never took to him. He became captain when Lennon moved on in 2007 and skippered the side on the night of the dramatic, emotional title win at Tannadice in 2008.
Despite struggling with his form towards the end of his time at Parkhead he could never be accused of lack of effort and never tried to hide unlike some other culprits.
Stephen leaves Celtic with a string of medals and a load of good memories. My biggest memory of him was when sitting in the Stretford End in 2008 (how any Celt can still back Man United I cannot fathom – but that’s a story for another day) as Celtic toiled to a 3-0 defeat. Despite being constantly under the cosh McManus never gave up and could be seen and heard encouraging and cajoling his team mates until the final whistle.
Apart from the glory night at Tannadice his high point was the great comeback at Tynecastle in 2006 when Celtic roared back from two down to win 3-2 in the most dramatic fashion. Stephen played a major part by scoring the last two goals and celebrated joyously with the small but fervent Celtic support behind that Hearts goal in a ground where a victory for the Celts is always to be appreciated. He had a decent scoring record for a centre half and was always a threat at set pieces.
In the end Stephen moves on to Middlesbrough with his mentor and Celtic receive £1.5M in exchange which sounds a good deal all round.
Thanks for your efforts big man and we wish you every success in the future.
|Last Updated on Friday, 16 July 2010 09:20|