This afternoon Celtic entertain Hamilton at Celtic Park. They’ll be hoping to maintain a 7 point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership.
Before that, second placed Aberdeen will take on Dundee in a lunchtime kick off. A victory for Derek McInnes’ side would put pressure Celtic with the gap closed to four points.
As likely as that scenario may be, I doubt Celtic will be focussing on anything other than their own match. Distractions off the field have been headlines for the club in recent weeks so for Ronny Deila, he will feel relieved to have a match to concentrate on again.
Last week Anthony Stokes’ tweet before the game at Inverness landed himself in trouble. What followed was an apology from the player and then a suspension imposed by the club.
Many fans spoke out over the imbalance of justice drawing comparison to Kris Commons’ verbal tirade in the dugout in Norway. However, had anyone actually put their hatred for Ronny Deila to one side and thought clearly about Stokes’ overall behaviour at the club they would have seen Deila’s statement coming a mile away.
I don’t claim to know the entire story with Anthony Stokes or his absence from the team but it is clear he has been a bit of a naughty boy and isn’t doing the right things to get in the team. Ronny Deila is a pretty simple guy in that if you train well, act professional you’ll get your chance.
Stokes for one reason or another has failed to achieve that under Deila. The frustrating part is that we all know how gifted the guy is but he doesn’t appear to be the brightest either.
As Deila said to the media, the suspension isn’t just about a single incident. It is a culmination of events of a period of time which the club are no acting upon.
The fact that he had to come out and say that just goes to show how much Celtic have tried to contain the situation with Stokes. When you are attracting attention away from football it brings unwanted attention to the club.
I have no problem with the club suspending Stokes. I doubt they’d do it without real cause.
It is still a shame that Stokes has ended up in this situation but then again, perhaps it is the kick up the arse that he needs. He’s a talented boy who can still have a future at the club so perhaps a couple of weeks away will help him sort his head out.
Right now, the Celtic team need to be fully concentrated with on-the-field matters. There is a treble at stake and in Ronny Deila’s case, possibly his career ambitions.
For a club branded as being in chaos by our ever so friendly Scottish media, Celtic are still unbeaten at home this season in the league. In fact Celtic have dropped points in only four of their 16 games so far this season with 3 draws and 1 defeat.
Approaching the halfway point in season Celtic will be looking to rubberstamp their authority on the domestic scene. With Europe off the agenda until next summer, full attention must go the all three domestic trophies.
The treble has eluded Celtic since Martin O’Neill won it back in the 2000/2001 season. Before then all three trophies hadn’t resided at Celtic Park since the 60’s during the Jock Stein era.
In truth, Celtic should have won the treble more than this. The club’s record in the League Cup has been the biggest drawback in achieving that.
If Ronny Deila was to win the treble it would be just the fourth time in the club’s history making the Norwegian the third Celtic manager to do so. That has to be the key motivator for everyone at the club right now.