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.