When I read about football manager’s getting their marching orders so early in a season I find it sickening, particularly when it is their first season at a club. I haven’t changed my stance on that in the case of Ronny Deila either and I remain, for now, a supporter of his.
With the Scottish Premiership nine games old, Celtic sit in sixth place. They have played one game less than the five teams placed above them and sit a mere four points off the top spot.
Celtic are not running away with the league as is expected these days. With their old rivals long gone, the forecast is not about who will win, its by what margin.
Last season was a pretty dire affair, particularly after Celtic’s exit from Europe by which time the league was a forgone conclusion. It wasn’t a particularly good European campaign either but that was to be expected having lost the spine of the team that had been the cornerstone of each good performance.
You see without European football, the domestic campaign will always be like a wet weekend. Winning the league isn’t all that special when you’ve obliterated teams that cannot match you.
So whilst losing to Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Hamilton Academical might seem disastrous to supporters, I suggest that it lays down a challenge. Credit must be paid to the SPFL clubs, particularly when stronger teams like Motherwell sit well below.
A couple of years ago, after the downfall of Celtic’s old foes, I laid down my wish that other clubs would come and have a go. That a challenge in the league would be welcome for the sake of Scottish football.
We balk at English suggestion that it was always a two horse race in Scotland. Though for the last couple of seasons it has been a solo run.
I’m certainly not lobbying for the phoenix club across the city to fill a void left by their predecessors because let’s face it they might not even make that far. What I do welcome though is a stronger Scottish Premiership.
Right now we have that through whatever circumstances that may be. I would suggest that this is healthy for the game in Scotland.
My point here is that I don’t want Celtic to run away with the league. Where is the entertainment in that?
If anything there is an opportunity for Celtic to do something different within the club. For many Ronny Deila was a budget appointment but I see it differently.
I said a few months ago that it was a left field move by bringing in Deila. Personally, I didn’t think the club had the balls to go down this road and as well as proving me wrong, I also think the risk involved is affordable.
By taking that risk Celtic have a chance to raise the bar. If Ronny Deila has the backing of the board to impose these changes then surely this is a positive move for the club’s professional standards?
The media and the fans have both voiced their opinions on Deila’s belief in the 24 hour athlete. Those who have mocked him about that are a true reflection of those unwilling to make a change for the better, as seen during Paul Le Guen’s time across the city.
Given half a chance to be a professional sportsman, I would jump at the chance to be the best and I’d be more than willing to make lifestyle changes. Deila wasn’t wrong about guys like Andy Murray either.
You can play against any team at any time in your career. If you want to compete you have to be doing it the same level or better than the best.
As a tennis player Murray might never be the best in the world but look what he has done by pushing himself in all areas. Anthony Stokes might never become Henrik Larsson by changing his lifestyle but at least we know we’ll have the fittest version of the Irishman.
Yet for some it isn’t about that. Its about Deila being clueless on the park.
In all honesty, I don’t think what we are seeing now is as good as it is going to get. Deila is a young manager and a stranger to Scottish football but he is also someone who could pioneer something brilliant at Celtic if he is given the chance but he’ll need more than two months.
If the section of the fans who want him gone were to get their wish now, where would we go from here? Where does Scottish football go?
Do we go back to fizzy drinks and crisps because its always been like that? Or do we dare to try something new with the possibility of influencing the rest of Scottish football by attempting to emulate the standards set by other European clubs?
I don’t know about you but I would like to see what Ronny Deila can produce for this club in the long term. Its not just about today or tomorrow, but rather next week and the months and years that follow.
Change doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t happen overnight either. Celtic have time on their side and for once I am glad they are being bold enough to do something with it rather than just winning the league come new year.
The ground work being laid might not resonate with many supporters at this moment in time or produce the football on the park. However, if Ronny Deila can emboss the standards now it can attract and create a better player within Celtic Football Club in the future.
If one year from now we are sitting here with Celtic looking like a deflated dinghy then I’ll hold my hands up. In reality though, we’ve only just entered October and are far from the finished article so let’s just sit tight and let things unfold.
Time is on our side.