Celtic could find themselves in 2nd place in the Scottish Premiership this afternoon. That all depends on a few things of course.
Firstly Aberdeen will need hold their nerve. A win will out them 2 points ahead of the Hoops albeit having played two more games.
To take top spot comes with its own pressure as well. That’s dealing with the pressure of getting there and then sustaining the pressure once you are up there.
We’ve already seen Aberdeen lose their nerve this season whilst Celtic caught up and overtook them. They then slipped into 3rd place when Hearts stepped up to 2nd spot for a month or so.
The tables turned again at the end of last month when the Dons stepped ahead of the Edinburgh club. They managed to put some daylight between themselves and Hearts thanks to a run of four successive wins, one of which was over the Midlothian club.
Today they have the comfort of a home match against Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Normally I’d say this is a match where anything can happen but Thistle have looked a shadow of the team they were last season.
With the visitors languishing in 9th place I’m sure Aberdeen will feel confident of a victory today. And yet they are equally capable of blowing the opportunity to go to top.
So today will give not just Ronny Deila, but Scottish football fans just how far Aberdeen have come. Should they stay the course, the pressure will then shift to Celtic.
Nothing new for Celtic though as the pressure is always present. What it does demand though is a response from the Hoops and to show their worth when it matters.
Ronny Deila has been under pressure from day one. It comes with the Celtic job but Deila has had a lot of criticism from different directions as well.
The fans have been his greatest critic. Most of it negative, much of it warranted.
Then there is the unyielding torrent of snash from the Scottish media. They have an agenda which is probably the biggest reason for bloggers like myself to take to the keyboard and write real stories and create good debate.
Deila isn’t the first Celtic coach to lack support from the media. In fact very few do but he is by no means any more hard done by than any of his predecessors.
In all fairness to Ronny, I think he handles the press well. It’s hard to defend yourself in front of the media when realistically your team is playing awful but he remains unshaken and adamant that things are still moving forward.
It is hard to see that on the field of play this season compared to last. Celtic are still in the hunt for three trophies though and the players still back the manager publicly.
The tough part for Ronny is that he is losing support from the fans when he needs it the most. To get supporters back on board will have to be achieved by doing a job on the park.
Positive results and performances will accumulate support. Any moves in the transfer market might also create some positivity among the fans as well as on the park.
Talking of transfers, Celtic still need to get rid of a few players. Similarly a few acquisitions would go a long way to improving matters.
Too many of Celtic’s players have been a let down this season. Craig Gordon, Efe Ambrose, Tyler Blackett, Dedryck Boyata, Stefan Johansen, Gary Mackay-Steven, Stuart Armstrong and Nadir Çiftç are all guilty of poor form this season.
The rest of the squad has done well enough to avoid major criticism in my opinion. Among them, we’ve had some standout performers in Kieran Tierney, Nir Bitton, Tom Rogić and Leigh Griffiths but it takes more than just a few players to make things happen, it takes the whole squad.
With two games left in 2015, Celtic have to go into the New Year with more positivity. Equally, the club must make some changes in playing personnel if not for now, then for the future.
Regardless of today’s result at Pittodrie, Ronny Deila and his players have their own agenda. That begins with beating Hearts at Tynecastle tomorrow.
The pressure won’t go away. It is here to stay, win, lose or draw.