Sport Soccer

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Deila urges 'fantastic' fans to help Celtic extend home run

Roddy Forsyth

Published 01/10/2015 | 02:30

Deila: Hoping for home comforts
Deila: Hoping for home comforts

Four in a row would suit Celtic very well as they prepare to meet Fenerbahce in the east end of Glasgow tonight. Ronny Deila's side have won all three of their home European matches this season and the manager last night declared that his players would take the game to opponents who spent substantially to reinforce under Vitor Pereira during the summer.

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Deila's hope is that Fenerbahce continue to underperform considering their investment, as they did on the opening day of Group A, when they lost at home to Molde, and also on Sunday when they lost their first derby of the season to Besiktas. It would also be a considerable help to Celtic's prospects if another sequence were to be extended - Robin van Persie's failure to score in 11 Uefa Cup and Europa League appearances.

"Besiktas was a tough game, a big game," said Deila. "Fenerbahce conceded two goals from set play in the beginning and then they came back again but lost in the end, although the game was really quite even. But when you lose, it affects you.

"We are at our best when we are offensive and when we are really at it from the first kick of the ball and we have to use this fantastic atmosphere in the stadium to push them back. We saw with Malmo that they struggled in the first half and we had a lot of chances and had them under control for a long while.

"If we can get that performance over 90 minutes we're going to be hard to beat. So, for me, it has to be very clear - this is the match plan and we have to execute it with energy and belief. It's always tough to beat a Scottish team when they are getting up to tempo."

Deila has a problem to solve at left-back because Emilio Izaguirre is suspended, following his red card against Ajax, and Charlie Mulgrew is injured. In last week's 2-0 victory over Raith Rovers in the Scottish League Cup, the 18-year-old Kieran Tierney was given a run-out in the position but it would be a serious gamble to throw him into a game in which Nani could be a direct opponent and a more likely replacement would be Tyler Blackett, on loan from Manchester United.

The Celtic manager praised Kris Commons for his performance against Ajax in Amsterdam two weeks ago and it can be anticipated that the midfielder will be offered the opportunity to provide more of the same this evening.

"I came back from pre-season with a broken toe and I had been out for eight weeks," said Commons. "We were straight into the Champions League but I wasn't fully fit and had problems with my footwear. I've had to wear bigger trainers and boots because any pressure on my little toe has been killing me. It could be sensitive for the next six months but it doesn't affect me in games.

"I am now in a much better place and to get the nod against Ajax and play a part in both goals was a confidence boost for me and for the manager, too.

"Am I a nuisance? You'd need to ask the manager. I'm not going to disrupt an atmosphere but he knows if I am not in the team I'm not going to be happy.

"If we are winning, then great, but if you are watching us lose at Aberdeen and I don't get the chance to get on it's bitterly disappointing. I had the chance to go into the Ajax game and do something to keep me in the team. Inevitably, I did OK and it's kept me in the team."

Deila was this week praised by Celtic's largest single shareholder, Dermot Desmond, who said that he could see progress.

"I haven't talked to him much face to face but he's an inspiring person. He has experience and knowledge," said Deila, who confessed to trepidation when Celtic's defeat by Malmo meant failure to reach the Champions League group stage for the second successive season. "The worst thing I know is to let people down and that's why it's tough to be a manager.

"Of course, Dermot is one of those people. But you have to face it - the same with the players. This is the time to show what kind of character you are."

Celtic v Fenerbahce, live, BT Sport 2, 8.05

Irish Independent

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