Tuesday 23 January 2018

Deila admits lessons he has learnt with his Bhoys on brink of title

Hearts 1 Celtic 3

Celtic's Kieran Tierney (right) and Scott Brown
Celtic's Kieran Tierney (right) and Scott Brown
Celtic's Leigh Griffiths scores his side's third goal of the game during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match against Hearts. Photo: Jeff Holmes/PA
Celtic's Colin Kazim Richards (left) and Hearts's John Souttar battle for the ball. Photo: Jeff Holmes/PA
Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko (left) and Hearts's Jamie Walker battle for the ball during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match. Photo: Jeff Holmes/PA

Roddy Forsyth

Dux or dunce? The arguments about Ronny Deila's capability as Celtic manager continue to generate heat on phone-ins, social media and pub arguments, but with the Hoops installed once again as top of the class in Scotland, their Norwegian coach confessed that his learning curve at Parkhead had been the equivalent of kindergarten to high school.

Deila now has three national titles on his CV - one with Stromsgodset in Norway and two in Scotland, where the single point Celtic require to secure their fifth successive championship is effectively covered by the immense gap in goal difference between the league leaders and Aberdeen, their only challengers.

Of his managerial record, Deila said: "It's not bad. It's a good one, but it's the road to it that's the most important thing. I went from first grade to tenth grade when I came here.


"I didn't understand what I went into, but I have been strong and I have learned an unbelievable amount and I have good staff around me and fantastic players. I have built myself a platform for a lot of experience that you can't get in school or reading books.

"Peter Lawwell (Celtic's chief executive) said when I signed the contract, 'Life will never be the same again'.

"I understand now what he was saying.

"Wherever you are, you are recognised as the Celtic manager and you will always be recognised as the former Celtic manager.

"And you can't tell someone what it is like to manage Celtic. You have to experience it. You can't read about it. You can prepare yourself a bit, but you have to feel it in your body and I have done it."

A significant criticism of Deila from within the club's support is that his 4-2-3-1 template was ineffective in Europe and redundant at home where, in the absence of Rangers, the team had a greater licence to play expansive football.

That said, Leigh Griffiths has prospered in the role of solo striker and, when he scored Celtic's third goal at Tynecastle, it took his tally for the season to 39.

Griffiths' contribution can be put in context by the gap in goal difference between Celtic and Aberdeen, currently plus-35 in the Hoops' favour.

Some of the player's antics off the field of play brought him to the verge of being offloaded by the club, but he has been something of a personal project for Deila and Griffiths has expressed gratitude to the manager for maintaining faith in him.

"He's a success story, of course, and it's important that it's not seen as down to me - it's him," said Deila.

"The people behind me have been great and they have also affected Leigh Griffiths a lot."

Mind you, a few minutes before Griffiths scored at Tynecastle, Deila was seen to berate him from the sidelines.

"Leigh was a little bit - what is your word for it - obnoxious. There was too much talking and too little running," the manager added.

That allegation could not be directed at Celtic generally. The level of crowd noise at Tynecastle, a potently atmospheric stadium, was in marked contrast to the sparse attendance at their previous outing, the sterile 1-1 draw at home to Ross County, after which they were jeered from the field.

On this occasion, Celtic responded to the racket from yet another near-capacity Tynecastle crowd by raising their game to reap reward from Colin Kazim-Richards and Patrick Roberts, as well as from Griffiths.

Deila and his players took a post-match bow in front of the travelling support in recognition of a job done.

It is unlikely that any Celtic manager will again be asked to address the situation which faced Deila when he succeeded Neil Lennon in 2014.

Without Rangers to spur them on, Celtic were nevertheless expected to win the title at a canter.

But it is not surprising that the team paused to graze by the wayside from time to time.


Soon it will be Deila's problem no longer, although he has advice for his successor.

"You need to be ahead of things all the time. Celtic have a lot of good footballers, so many talented young players here," he said.

"Football is changing. There could be four teams from Spain in the two European finals. England has all of the money in the world and they are not even close to being good enough.

"Some people are doing things better. The teams who understand that quickest are the ones who will succeed.

"It's not all about money. You have to spend wisely and be good at getting the right players in, but you need the right culture.

"That's what I wanted here, but the circumstances were not right in the end.

"And life goes on." (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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