Sunday 17 December 2017

Ronny Deila says nothing he did at Celtic would have been good enough

Ronny Deila (PA)
Ronny Deila (PA)

Roddy Forsyth

As he prepares to take his leave of Celtic after two seasons in charge, Ronny Deila has declared that almost nothing he could have done as manager would have been good enough when measured against the club’s illustrious past.

The Norwegian – whose second successive Scottish title will be confirmed on Sunday if Celtic draw or win at home to Aberdeen – talked of winning a clean sweep of the domestic honours in his first season but was thwarted by a Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Inverness.

This season Celtic lost two more semi-finals, to Ross County in the Scottish League Cup and to Rangers in the Scottish Cup. However, it was in the wider context of Europe that Deila fell well short of the standard expected by Hoops supporters, as he admitted last night.

“I’ve developed a lot. I’ve been to a small club [Strømsgodset] and now a very, very big club with unbelievable pressure in a very special situation,” he said. “Celtic had won everything before I came and everything you do will never be good enough, almost.

“The challenge has been unbelievably big and all these experiences have done something to me as a manager and person,” Deila added. “There are things I have done very well and things I could have done better.

“Of course, the Champions League is the important thing – games where we haven’t succeeded or been good enough that have affected the atmosphere in and outside the club. “Now we are 99.99 per cent sure we have won the league it is a very good situation for next year. A new manager with new ideas and energy will hopefully lift the club to where it wants to be.”

Asked if, after he enjoys his planned holiday in Marbella, he would relish the prospect of another crack at the Champions League qualifiers with a new club, Deila said: “For me it’s not about that. It’s about a project that I think is the right thing for me with the circumstances and opportunities.

“Of course I want to win trophies but I want to develop things and feel I have an impact on what is going on. What kind of level that is going to be is hard to say. It’s more about the people in the club and their ambition.

“If I have to take time out I have a lot of things I want to do – maybe be an expert on television. I will not go to the Euros. I can teach and do speeches for companies and things like that, so I’m not so stressed, but I am loving this crazy game of being a manager more than I have ever been.”

Deila was criticised this week by Billy Stark, the former Celtic midfielder and ex-coach of the Scotland Under-21 side, for having allowed the Parkhead squad to become bloated. “I totally agree but I also had that issue when I came in here,” he responded.

“There were too many players here at that time. When you don’t have a lot of money and you can’t get the ones you know are real quality, you have to take chances.

“In the end it has been unbalanced and that’s a challenge. We had a very good unit here last year up to Christmas, but after that we got stuck with too many players and that is my responsibility. There are things I should have done better.”

Deila also spoke last season about the attraction of Scottish players but that, too, was a project where many observers and Celtic fans feel he has fallen short of the mark. “We have brought in a lot of Scottish players and they have been important for the team,” he said. “Ryan Christie is one and I know that he will be a great success in the end. Scott Allan has trained well, He has talent. He maybe didn’t suit the style I want to play but he can get in the team if it’s another style.

“I don’t think that was a mistake,” Deila claimed. “A lot of players go for half a year and don’t play a lot. It’s a big step going from Hibs to Celtic, but he works hard. He is a good guy in the environment and I know he has developed this year.

“You have to play almost on the Scottish national team to get a game here and we had very few injuries this year.

“Gary Mackay-Steven has taken steps. Stuart Armstrong has had some good times and he’s been a little bit down but is coming back now. A lot of players have progressed here but at the same time there are a lot of things I could have done better as well.”

Meanwhile, Hibernian booked their Ladbrokes Premiership play-off semi-final place against Falkirk with a nervy 2-0 win over Raith Rovers on Saturday which took them through 2-1 on aggregate. The Kirkcaldy side led 1-0 from Wednesday’s first leg at Stark’s Park but goals from midfielder John McGinn and defender Darren McGregor after only 12 minutes turned the tie in favour of Hibs.

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