Wednesday 13 December 2017

'There's a long way to go' - Ronnie Deila remaining grounded as Celtic extend lead at the summit

Celtic manager Ronny Deila
Celtic manager Ronny Deila

Celtic can turn the screw on Ladbrokes Premiership rivals Aberdeen this week but manager Ronny Deila is staying clear of any title talk.

The league leaders took a commanding six-point lead over the Dons with a 3-0 win over Inverness at Parkhead on Saturday.

Midfielder Gary Mackay-Steven opened the scoring after the break before a double from striker Leigh Griffiths which took his tally to the season to 32.

With 12 games remaining Celtic can put further pressure on Derek McInnes' men when they face Hamilton at New Douglas Park on Friday night, with the Pittodrie side not playing until the following day when they host St Johnstone.

However, when asked if the win over Caley Thistle made him feel the title is now firmly in Celtic's control, Deila said: "I don't feel anything. There is a long way to go.

"We are in a good situation but if you start losing games it can be very even again.

"But if we keep winning games the others have to cope with that and if they do that it is going to be tough all the way.

"But we can't do anything about that, we have to keep on doing everything we can to win."

Celtic fans were unimpressed by their side's display in a goalless first half but perked up with Mackay-Steven's smartly dispatched shot from the edge of the box.

And after Griffiths added the second just before the hour mark, Deila replaced Stuart Armstrong with Scott Allan and Stefan Johansen with Ryan Christie, before 19-year-old Patrick Roberts, on loan from Manchester City, came on for Mackay-Steven to make his debut.

The introduction of three flair players allowed the home supporters to enjoy the final stages before Griffiths scored his second in injury time with another powerful drive.

Christie, 20, joined Celtic from Inverness in September but was loaned back to the Highlanders before being recalled in January.

After making his third appearance off the bench after recovering from a knee injury, the attacking midfielder is looking to make a bigger contribution but accepts the fierce competition for places in Celtic's massive squad.

He said: "Me, Scott and Patrick are all similar players who show a bit of flair and get forward with the ball.

"We are all desperate to get on the park and show what we can do.

"We are all trying to prove a point to get into the starting XI.

"I am just back from injury so I'm just finding my feet but it is a great team to be part of and I can definitely see there being a big future with the young talent we have got.

"Everybody knows in the dressing room that there is a fair competition between players and that is just part of football. That is a challenge everyone has to accept."

Inverness manager John Hughes bemoaned his side's missed chances, most notably Gary Warren heading wide of an open goal after Hoops keeper Craig Gordon had totally missed an Iain Vigurs free-kick and striker Jordan Roberts failing to beat Gordon in a one-on-one but said: "Celtic are different class at sucking you in and if a pass goes astray their transition is very quick and they get at you.

"I felt the second and third goal was possibly down to us, a bad pass, a slack pass, and they were right at us."

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