Fortune finds favour in the Hawthorns as Celtic wield axe
Misfiring striker returns to West Brom
MArC-ANtOINE Fortune has returned to West Bromwich Albion after ending a largely unhappy stay at Celtic Park on a low. Fortune has signed a two-year contract at the Hawthorns.
He flew straight to the Midlands from the Netherlands after playing in Celtic’s 4-0 Europa League play-off defeat by Utrecht. the 29-year-old enjoyed a happier spell in his career when he played for West Brom on loan from Nancy during their previous spell in the Barclays Premier League.
the French-guyana forward has been registered in time to play in tomorrow’s clash at Liverpool, subject to international clearance.
the former Nancy striker netted five goals for the Baggies in a four-month loan stint in 2009 before being reunited with tony Mowbray after the manager moved to Celtic Park. Fortune struggled to live up to his £3.8 million price tag, although he was not helped by a knee injury early in his Parkhead career, and failed to win a trophy.
He netted 12 goals in 43 matches and began to win fans over with his allround play but he has become the latest victim of Neil Lennon’s rebuilding job as the Celtic manager eyes a move for Hibernian striker Anthony Stokes.
However, West Brom manager roberto Di Matteo is delighted to welcome the frontman back to Albion, with the club holding a year’s option on top of his initial contract.
Di Matteo told the club’s official web- site: “I’m delighted to welcome Marco back to the club. the great thing about this signing is that it won’t take him long to settle in because he knows the club inside out. He also knows what this league is all about. He is a powerful striker who can hold the ball up and bring others into play.”
Lennon takes his side to Fir Park tomorrow afternoon and Motherwell manager Craig Brown feels the visit of Celtic is the perfect way to get over thursday’s crushing European disappointment.
Like Celtic, Motherwell exited the Europa League with the group stages in their sights after missing a host of chances in a 1-0 home loss against Odense. A 3-1 aggregate defeat failed to tell the story of the two legs as Motherwell created more opportunities than their Danish opponents but lacked their clinical edge.
Motherwell now host another side licking their wounds from their European campaign after Celtic lost 4-0 in Utrecht to exit at the same stage.
Brown will have Steve Jennings available again after the influential midfielder missed the Odense second leg through suspension.
And, although he has few other options to shuffle his pack, the 70-year-old is confident his team can bounce back when Celtic visit Fir Park in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
“We’ve had six games in Europe and two in the league,” Brown said.
“Now I’ve told them the SPL starts on Sunday. Celtic here is the start of the season and then we’ve got to try to do what we did last season and get back into this level of competition.
“It’s the best game after that disappointment. Celtic can freshen up their team, we haven’t got the resources to make many changes. But I thought our level of fitness was great. I was so pleased with the performance and attitude and I can’t ask for any more from the players.”
Jamie Murphy missed the best chance of the 1-0 home defeat when he hit the post with a penalty. But the 20-year-old became Motherwell’s leading European goalscorer during their run to the playoffs and he will use the experience to drive himself and the team on.
“We played well against a decent team,” Murphy said. “Just a bit of luck and we could have got a couple of goals. We can’t be too down, we’ve just got to take the performance into the game on Sunday – plus a couple of goals.
“We have all enjoyed it and you can’t ask for much more than enjoying playing football.
“We won a few games, it’s been great while it lasted. We were unfortunate not to go on but we’ve got to do our all to get back here next year.”
marc-antoine fortune scored 12 goals in 43 matches for celtic but failed to justify fully the £3.8m transfer fee former manager tony mowbray paid to sign the striker