Monday, 26 October 2015
'New Celtic': The Ronny Deila Question
I have some explaining to do.
My almost propagandist features on Ronny Deila so far have clearly been a little miscalculated.
No sooner since I've been preaching to the masses about how Deila should be hailed for his willingness to deliver attacking football and for his progressive and modern outlook on the game, we get trounced in Europe.
We were totally outdone by Molde on Thursday.
Thursday's defeat comes after I had the audacity to predict a Celtic victory while lecturing the Deila doubters about their (now vindicated) scepticism.
It was a horrible night all round, and after the infamous pitchside bust-up between Kris Commons and the Celtic management team, I assumed we were watching Celtic's Ronny Deila experiment come to a crushing end.
Admittedly I now feel myself partially agreeing with the many fans who have been a little trepidatious to wholeheartedly invest in the Ronny Deila era.
For example, I see why they are a bit perplexed as to why he insists on attacking teams, regardless of the opposition's stature, set-up and arsenal - you're correct, I did say Deila should be applauded for what I described as his "boldness" and his bravado in a previous blog.
After the nightmare showing against Legia Warsaw last year, the embarrassment of Maribor and the torturous Malmo disaster, some Celtic supporters really have checked out after this latest escapade.
Yes, a 3-1 defeat against Molde - who sit in 7th place in the Tippeligaen - has forced fans to hurriedly call for the Norwegian's sacking.
But I want them to stall.
I don't want Ronny Deila sacked. At least not yet anyway.
Hear me out though.
I felt the same pain as you all on Thursday. My belly ached from the on-pitch annihilaton and from watching the off-pitch spat.
Dare I say that Thursday night's episode even took me back to that rainy night in Paisley in 2010, which saw Tony Mowbray oversee his last match in charge of Celtic in a 4-0 defeat to St Mirren.
I've labelled Deila's management in the past as being brave and bold, but it can also be downright reckless.
His game plan on Thursday was all wrong.
Even rewinding back a full year to our hellish performance against Legia Warsaw in Poland, such heedlessness is still causing us major problems.
People forget that when the clock hit eighty minutes in Warsaw, we were 2-1 down with ten men and confident that we could take them back to Scotland and nick a result with what was then an invaluable away goal.
A whole ten minutes later we were 4-1 down and had watched Legia miss their second penalty of the match.
And on Thursday, we went 2-0 down in the first twenty minutes of the game after attacking a team that seem to be famed on the effectiveness of their counter-attacking football.
Not only that, we lost a third goal within forty seconds of pulling it back to 2-1.
Our playing performances in Europe have at times embodied similar characteristics to Ronny Deila the manager himself: raw and maybe a bit too wishful.
We have to be more responsible, practical and adaptible.
I don't want to do my best Mike Bassett impression but the team shape is far too one-dimensional, too.
Griffiths had never looked so isolated on Thursday, and the distance between the two anchors in midfield and the four attackers was far too extensive.
The full backs were too high as well (see Molde's first goal).
We need to learn to be more robust in order to manage results in Europe. We can't keep being as predictable and insist on going for the jugular all the time.
Our high pressing game suited Molde. They waited for the inevitable slack pass and pinned us back on the counter.
Every time they ran at our defence, they looked like scoring.
Some harsh truths for me: Deila has clearly got a lot wrong so far.
An inability to learn from his mistakes is troubling a lot of supporters.
However, to say the man isn't getting anything right is slightly unfair and ill-judged.
I would hate to discard the whole Deila project at this stage, especially as his tenure is starting to bring about some significantly good results.
I've spoken at length about his positive man management, having really brought out the best in players like Leigh Griffiths and Nir Bitton.
And promoting Kieran Tierney from the under-20s, at the tender age of just eighten, shows Deila's desire to actively invest in youth.
For Deila's vision of 'new Celtic' (I termed it so) to be realised it was always going to need a lot of patience.
Most of all, however, it needs strong foundations and a sizeable degree of trust.
Deila is going to make mistakes.
That isn't necessarily an excuse for performances like Thursday's, but results such as those are the price you pay for hiring a young manager from Scandinavia that possesses little European football experience (as both a player and manager).
He does have to learn more quickly, however. He needs to be more pragmatic and astute in his approach to European fixtures.
And from here on out, he has to nail his first eleven to the wall. He has to stop rotating things now.
Simunovic was effortlessly cool at the back on Sunday and Boyata looked more confident on the ball. If this is his first choice centre half pairing, he has to stick with it.
One thing he does seem to have sussed right now is the ability to turn it on domestically - I hope I haven't cursed things (again).
We've picked up nine points in the league after all of our Europa League fixtures so far this season, scoring twelve goals and conceding only one.
Some shout about how our domestic duties are now void, insisting that Deila shouldn't be judged on results in Scotland.
An utterly laughable stance.
Every Celtic manager has (and always will have) the same, fundamental expectations and that is to win the league and enjoy domestic cup success.
We cannot set a precedent of sacking managers for under-performing in Europe while they produce big results domestically.
That just isn't happening.
Worth noting that if Celtic beat Aberdeen on Saturday, they move seven points clear at the top of the table making the destination of the SPFL Championship almost a formality already.
But firstly we have a huge test on Wednesday night at Tynecastle in the League Cup.
Defeat would spell the end of another coveted domestic treble and pressure would really sore on Deila, undoubtedly asking tough questions of the Celtic board.
We know how volatile and energised our meetings are at Tynecastle, and it always takes a gutsy Celtic side to leave Gorgie victorious.
I'm confident we will.
So does Deila have a future at Celtic?
In my opinion, he will get until Christmas.
There's little room for sentiment in football, and Deila may just learn that pretty soon.
We will need to see a real marked improvement in performances in the second half of our duties in Group A of the Europa League, and we will need to remain in all domestic competitions for him to get out of this mess alive.
The man's bruised and a bit battered, but he's not out yet.
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