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Friday 23 March 2018

Deila's focus on Europe as Celtic enjoy title party

Celtic 5-0 Inverness CT

Celtic manager Ronny Deila with his twin daughters, Thale and Live, at Parkhead yesterday
Celtic manager Ronny Deila with his twin daughters, Thale and Live, at Parkhead yesterday

Nigel Whittaker

Celtic celebrated their fourth successive championship – and their first under Ronny Deila – with a rampaging performance against a shadow Inverness team.

And afterwards, manager Ronny Deila claimed that his players have improved enough to make it into the Champions League next season without the need for any additions.

Deila passed up on two chances to qualify for the Champions League this  season as he came to grips with taking over from Neil Lennon, but he believes that they will be in a much better place for a tilt at Europe next season.

He said: “I think we are  in a good position, even if we don’t add anyone else before the qualifiers. I’m not worried.

“I know that the players who are here already are the ones who are going to do the main job.

“We were in a totally different place last year, with a lot of uncertainties. They felt unsafe with what I wanted to put into the team. The transition was so hard.

“We struggled with that. A lot of managers have come into Celtic and other places before me and also struggled with that.

“Now we have a foundation to work on. You can see that everyone on the pitch knows their tasks and have a good togetherness. We know what is ahead of us and it motivates us.”

A double from Serbian striker Stefan Scepovic and further goals from midfielder Stefan Johansen and substitutes Leigh Griffiths and Kris Commons left Celtic on 92 points, 17 ahead of Aberdeen, and having conceded only 17 goals – a post-war record.

Deila claimed that Scepovic, who signed last year for a reported fee of £2.3m from Sporting Gijon, still has a future at the club despite his failure to pin down a regular place in the team.

He said: “Stefan has struggled a little bit to get into the physical side of Scottish football, but today he showed he is capable of doing it.

“He knew what I expected from him – hard work and quick reactions.

“We know he can score goals, but I think he worked really, really hard today and showed that he is capable of doing what we ask him to do.”

With one eye on next Saturday’s Scottish Cup final against Falkirk at Hampden, Inverness manager John Hughes left out six regulars, while Marley Watkins and Aaron Doran were on the bench.

“It was a horrible week because you are preparing for the Scottish Cup final and you still have Celtic here,” said Hughes. “What team do you pick?

“You owe it to the boys. What if one of them picks up a straight red card and misses the final?”

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