The shock of life at Celtic – what he calls “the fire” – has forced Ronny Deila to ditch his principles to concentrate on winning, but the Norwegian has become addicted to the ceaseless demands of the job – for better and worse.
Should Celtic prevail against Hearts in their Scottish Cup fourth-round tie tomorrow, they will be in contention in four competitions going into the New Year.
That prospect looked unlikely when they made a stuttering start to the season as Deila struggled to get to grips with his move from the sleepy backwater of Drammen in Norway, where he was in charge of Stromsgodset.
The Celtic manager was swiftly disabused of hoping for measured development of his squad.
“I have to admit that I have ditched those principles a lot this season, because I now understand it is a totally different environment here compared to what I was used to before,” he said.
“This is all about results – you have to win all the time. So you have to think short term and also try to take small steps towards the long-term things as well.
“I’m used to having seven days between games and being able to relax a little bit, reflect on the game and prepare for the next one but here you have to think about the next game the very next day.
“I am addicted to this now. You hate it and you love it. I wonder about the day I wake up and I don’t have it.
“Sometimes you think of lying on a beach in Spain and not having it but I would miss this. Yo u are in the fire and I love to be there. I love to be down and I love to be up and I try to be in between. That’s what I’ve been doing for 20 years.”
Deila certainly felt the heat in the opening spell of Thursday’s Europa League tie as Celtic seemed on the verge of humiliation after losing two cheap goals to Salzburg’s Brazilian ace, Alan.
“I don’t enjoy being two goals down after 13 minutes – I assure you I was hurting inside but it’s part of the job,” he said.
“Sometimes we have to understand that the opponent is good as we are. If we are playing s**t and the opponent is playing s**t, then that’s the worse feeling.
“And also when we win but are so poor, I hate it. First is attitude, let’s start with that. If you do everything you can and lose because of the details, then you have to learn from it, but to lose with a bad attitude – then you want to do something else.
“We fought back and that showed character. If we had a weak team there it could have been ugly. You saw Salzburg taking five from Zagreb.
“I am very focused on the Cup game now. If we can win it, we will put ourselves in a very good situation and we can have a fantastic spring. There will be so many interesting games – I get excited to talk about it.”
Charlie Mulgrew and Jason Denayer are doubtful for the trip to Tynecastle, where Hearts beat Rangers 2-0 last Sunday to go nine points clear in the chase for the single automatic promotion spot. © Daily Telegraph, London.
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