For­tune finds favour in the Hawthorns as Celtic wield axe

Mis­fir­ing striker re­turns to West Brom

The Scotsman - - Sport - gavIn mccaf­ferty

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

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