Time to be cut-throat with our over-inflated squad

No sooner than he is announced as Celtic’s new manager, Brendan Rodgers is said to be planning a clear out of players. This isn’t much of a surprise but it does seem to be prompt action.

Celtic have a massive team and in the hours following Rodgers signature, I’ve been discussing the current squad in my circle. Downsizing is a must particularly if fresh players are to be introduced but there are some question marks over key players.

Rumours are suggesting that Stefan Šćepović and Carlton Cole have already gone. Emilio Izaguirre was also set to leave but the word on the street is he will be back for pre-season training.

Perhaps the arrival of Rodgers has some players reconsidering their Celtic careers. This is not just limited to Izzy though, there are several players who will be evaluating their positions.

The latest rumour is linking Efe Ambrose with a move to Europa League opponents Fenerbahçe. I mean, if the Turkish club didn’t get a good enough look at his calamitous efforts when playing against him then I would say this is a cruel joke.

However, he does need to go and won’t get any argument from me. Tyler Blackett can also return to Manchester United after a poor loan spell.

In terms of do-they-or-don’t-they get new deals are Charlie Mulgrew, James Forrest and Darnell Fisher. All three are out of contract, though Forrest’s is said to run until mid-season, but whether they have futures at the club will be the first piece of business.

Mulgrew is a valuable utility man and any deal he offered is most likely to be small given his recent absence from the team. Forrest has also been a player absent from the first team but how much of that has been injury based is unclear.

He has had his fair share of them and has hindered his career at the club. Despite that, he has had some fantastic games for the club, we just haven’t seen it for so long and he might become surplus to requirement.s

Fisher, has been on loan at St Johnstone this season but played less than a dozen games. He looked like a decent prospect, despite playing in an oversubscribed playing position.

With Mikael Lustig currently first choice, Saidy Janko second, Fisher is likely to be cut. That would only change if either of the first two were to leave which is doubtful.

In the final year of their contracts are Kris Commons, Stefan Johansen, Tom Rogic, Leonardo Fasan and Eoghan O’Connell. Also on that list are Emilio Izaguirre and Efe Ambrose.

There is opportunity for Celtic to cash in on all or some of these guys. However, one player the club should make a priority to keep is Tom Rogic.

Put simply, he is one of our best players and given the season he has just had, deserves a new contract. Commons’ value will be low given his age but his ability suggests he still has a role to play at the club.

Johansen had a great start to his Celtic career but this season has been poor. There is nothing to suggest he won’t get back to his best and a new contract would depend on that and his desire to stay.

Fasan and O’Connell are squad players who have never made an impact and could will either go out on loan, let their contracts wind down or be sold off. The only other player with a year left to go is Cole but if rumours are accurate, we can confine him to the scrap-heap.

Then there is the matter of Celtic’s players out on loan. Fisher we’ve covered, the Šćepović rumour has yet to be clarified so that leaves some key players to discuss.

After 4 goals in 22 appearances for Celtic, Nadir Çiftçi was shipped out on loan to Eskişehirspor during the January transfer window. He lasted just 34 minutes in his first game before being substituted and was sent of in his second after receiving two yellow cards in the space of a minute.

In 10 appearances he managed 3 goals and now Eskişehirspor have been relegated. Given that their fans set fire to their own stadium following that, I’d say Çiftçi and Eskişehirspor are a good fit for each other.

Before going to Hibs, Liam Henderson was looking like a very decent midfield prospect. However, it is a busy area in terms of personnel and Celtic farmed him out for some first team experience.

He played the end of last season at Rosenborg where he scored 4 goals in 13 games. After returning to Celtic he was then off on a season long loan to Championship club, Hibs.

He’s played a massive 48 games and scored 6 goals. Will he be returning to Celtic this summer and making an impact in the first team?

Well he certainly has the talent but like I say, there is a lot of competition in the team right now. His future may depend on the future of others with expired/expiring contracts.

Another Hibs player with a question mark over his future is Anthony Stokes. I’ve been fairly convinced the club have been trying to move him on but as you might have seen from his performance in the Scottish Cup Final, he still has a lot of worth.

He is still only 27 and you know what, Brendan Rodgers might just fancy him for the left flank. At the moment, it isn’t our strongest position but it is a place Stokes knows inside out.

Is it time for the prodigal son to return? Watch this space.

Other loanees are Stuart Findlay, Calum Waters, and Aidan Nesbitt. These guys could very well be part of the next generation but right now there immediate futures are not a burning issue.

So what about our other team members? Will we see any more movement within the squad?

Well in the goalkeeper department we are reasonably secure for the coming season with Craig Gordon as number one and Logan Bailly as backup. The defence isn’t looking too bad either though that will all depend on who is available.

Erik Sviatchenko looks good and steady at the back. He needs a permanent partner though and my first choice would be Jozo Šimunović.

However, Jozo has had his injuries and the central defensive pairing will depend on his recovery and long-term fitness. If that doesn’t work out then you are looking at Dedryck Boyata.

In all honesty, I haven’t been convinced by the Belgian who was a permanent buy from Manchester City once Jason Denayer returned to them from his loan spell. Boyata hasn’t even come close to looking as good as Denayer so this season is make or break for him.

Our midfield is flooding with personnel right now and to accommodate all of them is a tall order. Captain Scott Brown has had a dodgy season but there is no danger of losing his services though I do think Rodgers should not be afraid to drop him.

Nir Bitton is a fine player when he wants to be, despite his languid demeanour at times. I’d be happy for him to stay on though with a return to form we may find it difficult to prevent a future move.

Gary Mackay-Steven has had some decent games for Celtic but he lacks any sort of consistency. Even at his best, he hasn’t looked as good as James Forrest and with Patrick Roberts currently blowing away almost every other Celtic player right now, Mackay-Steven is on the fringes right now.

One player growing in importance and demonstrating is adaptability is Callum McGregor. Ronny Deila gave him his first outing in the first team and has been a very loyal servant to the now departed Celtic Head Coach.

He can play wide, central or deep and has an eye for goal. His place in this squad is not in jeopardy.

Stuart Armstrong is wasted out in the wide areas. He might have a left foot but he is not a let winger.

For me, he needs to play more of a central role. He isn’t fast but he is strong, has great technique and can pick out a pass.

The two players who will be knocking on the door of the new manager will be Ryan Christie and Scott Allan. Both came in last summer and have played a small amount of matches, though Christie was loaned back to his previous club for half of this season as well has suffering and injury.

They are both highly rated players and could well be the part of the new season under Rodgers. Celtic need to push forward and these guys can be part of it but as I have said before, we have a lot of players in the midfield position and something or someone will have to give.

In the youth front, Anthony Ralston and Joe Thomson are still on the periphery. With so many players ahead of them their time is likely to be a bit further down the line.

Up front is an area where Celtic are lightweight. Leigh Griffiths is our star player right now but he has not backup. Colin Kazim-Richards is a more physical player but he doesn’t’ provide anywhere near the same kind of ability so this is an area where Celtic will have to strengthen, particularly if we are to make inroads in Europe once more.

Jack Aitchison came off the bench to score with his first touch in his first senior appearance for the club in the 7-0 mauling of Motherwell. He also became the youngest ever player to score for Celtic, breaking an age-old record.

You can’t judge the boy on one goal. If he can offer something long-term in attack we will soon find out though.

Rodgers might have to be cut-throat to bring down the squad size in order to make some space for new players. We already have a new player in Kristoffer Ajer joining the ranks as part of a pre-planned deal but there will be further moves and changes in the coming weeks.

Exciting times to be a Celtic supporter.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

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Ronny’s Final Stop

Today, the Deila bus will make its final stop. It has been a two-year journey with mixed success.

On the one hand there has been a League Cup and two League titles, the second of which will be presented today at Celtic Park. The overriding factor is of course the lack of progress this season and in particular, in Europe.

To win support from the majority you will be measured by your efforts in Europe. It is a money spinner for the club and an essential part of the season for the support.

Last season things turned around as Christmas approached. There was also a decent inning in the Europa League to speak of.

This season the football has been dire and many, many players have let themselves and the club down on the park. Having said that, there have been a handful of players who have turned in a fine season.

To progress and succeed though, you need you whole team doing it and they haven’t as a collective. Too many areas on the field of play have been an empty jersey.

A hollow central defence has only recently seen any stability thanks to the January signing of Erik Sviatchenko. By then Europe was already a distant memory but he did make things look more assured at the back.

He is captain material and so long as he has the right partner next season things should start to stabilise at the back. Hopefully an injury free Jozo Šimunović can restart his Celtic career next season alongside him.

At left back Kieran Tierney has been a joy to watch. For his age and experience he has done remarkably well and his presence in the team has been a breath of fresh air.

His attitude is perfect and should mature into a fine player. He has the classic full back style and it is good to know that left-back berth is in good hands with the expected departure of Emilio Izaguirre in the summer.

In the midfield, it has been one of Celtic’s worst seasons for a while. I don’t dare to mention Nir Bitton (who I don’t think has done as bad as some make out this season) but Tom Rogic certainly deserves some recognition.

At one stage his Celtic career looked to be in jeopardy. Having sustained injury and a loan spell back in his homeland he made it back to Celtic and in to the first team.

Not many Celtic players manage that and to his credit, he made his mark when given the chance. He displaced Stefan Johansen in the midfield attack role that the Norwegian made his own last season and was rightly awarded for.

The only thing Rogic may have been missing this season were more starts. He came off the bench and missed some games but I there were games where he wasn’t picked when I think we needed him.

Still, he got goal of the season award for all of his efforts. And in all honesty, there were some great goals from him this season.

Callum McGregor has proved that his efforts from early last season were not a one-off. Since his return from injury he has made another impact on the team.

He is versatile and has an eye for goal. Much as he may not be player of the season, his efforts have not gone unnoticed.

On the subject of goals, Leigh Griffiths has been a lone striker all season. I personally wasn’t sure whether he had the ability in Europe but he still managed to score 4 times in 11 appearances.

The most impressive part of his season is of course reaching the 40 goal mark. Never since the days of Henrik Larsson has this ever been achieved by a Celtic player and Griffiths becomes only the 8th Celt ever to do so.

It is fine company and he has earned it. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Leigh Griffiths has proven me wrong.

I was sceptical about his transfer to Celtic and his off the field behaviour. If Ronny has anything to be proud of it is his work with Griffiths.

A late addition to the plaudits for this season is Patrick Roberts. Signed on an 18 month loan deal from Manchester City, he has scored 5 goals in 12 games.

Today, he could well add to that tally as Celtic host Motherwell. With Griffiths suspended Colin Kazim-Richards will step into the strikers role but the goals could well come from the winger rather than the seldom seen striker.

So to Ronny Deila and his final appearance in the dug out. For many he should have gone long before now but I don’t agree.

Yes, we lost out in two cup semi-finals but changes before then would not have guaranteed anything better. He was entitled to finish the season and I am glad he has.

This way, he gets to say goodbye in his own way rather than being pushed out the door mid-season with failure rubber stamped on his CV. He can lift the Scottish Premiership trophy for the second successive time and walk away respectfully.

I liked the guy. I liked him a lot.

Perhaps the job was too big for him. Maybe he didn’t impose himself enough earlier as he mentioned in the media.

Life is about making mistakes and learning from them. To say Ronny was a failure would be wrong.

It was an experiment and one that I backed. We now know what we must do in the aftermath of this venture.

There is a decent team at Celtic right now. The next man needs to get the best out of them and move on those who don’t fit the bill.

Today we may be seeing some Celtic players for the last time in the Hoops. Let’s celebrate Five-In-Row with a Ronny Roar and a farewell to those departing after today’s celebrations.

Here’s to the future.

Hail! Hail! Ronny and all the best.

Stevie Mac

Walk on, walk on

Ronny Deila walked away from Fir Park yesterday with all three points. As for his opposite number, Mark McGhee, well he just walked on by.

The post-match handshakes that are generally customary in football did happen yesterday. However, McGhee chose to brush past Deila and go straight for John Kennedy’s hand instead, leaving the Norwegian visually stunned.

Viewers were left equally perplexed by Deila’s bemused face. There seemed to be no reason for this act of ignorance.

Now I’m not interested why McGhee chose to body swerve Deila or even filter through the bullshit he churned out after the game. It is pretty childish, insulting and unprofessional to act in such a way, particularly in front of the live TV cameras.

Whatever happened was in one man’s head. A man who up until yesterday I had been commending for his efforts in taking Motherwell up the league.

I’ve never had a bad word to say about McGhee but yesterday he made himself look like a complete chump. This may have been a ‘misunderstanding’ but he turned everything sour with his petulant demeanour.

Motherwell played well, particularly their keeper Connor Ripley. This was also one of Celtic’s better performances of late.

As hard fought a win as it was, there was enough to praise about both teams. Celtic are grinding out results, Motherwell are worth their place in the league.

Better still, Celtic are now eight points ahead of Aberdeen and in the driving seat for a 5th consecutive title. Two wins and a draw from our last five fixtures would be enough to secure the league.

The post-split fixtures list will be announced on Monday. So far we know Celtic will play Aberdeen at Celtic Park and is already being billed as the title decider.

We’ll find out soon enough. Next up though there is the small matter of playing a team across the city.

Celtic meet Rangers at Hampden in the Scottish Cup Semi Final. It’s the second time the two teams have met in their history.

Despite the blanket opinion of the media to name this an O** F*** tie, we Celtic support see it somewhat differently. The battle rages on about the claim that the Rangers that died in 2012 and the one that resides at Ibrox in the aftermath of the old club’s demise are one and the same.

The media will continue to call them the same club. The followers will continue to call them the same club.

This is a debate that will never be resolved and it’s almost a waste of time pursuing the truth of the matter. I’d like to think this new argument with the 2012 club would replace the abysmal history between Celtic and the 1872 club.

That is wishful thinking though so get ready for it. Because the “blue-fest”, sponsored by the Scottish media, is coming you way.

Oh yes, the succulent lamb brigade are positively salivating at the mere mention of “Rangers”, “Ibrox” and “Scottish Premiership” all in the one sentence. Well you know what, sentence me to death right now because this is going to be one horrible ride.

At long last the Scottish media can begin talking about a team in the top flight that they are happy to serve. This is not paranoia, this is how it is.

We’ve all seen how things can go wrong when someone in that media does say something that goes against the grain of their club or their supporters. Just ask Jim Spence.

I’m looking forward to next Sunday and Celtic maintaining a 100% record against the newcomers. Make mine a double.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

An opportunity: Motherwell v Celtic

Strange things happen – take Hearts beating Aberdeen last night for instance. This result wasn’t totally unexpected to be honest and once more another indicator of a title race full of twists.

For Celtic that means seizing yet another opportunity to widen the gap at the top the league. A win today at Fir Park would put Celtic 8 points ahead of Aberdeen but nothing is guaranteed.

Motherwell will be out in force today. Ronny Deila can expect no favours from Mark McGhee.

This could be bad day for Celtic, it could be a great day. Right now I wouldn’t bet any money on them though.

For every good result there’s a bad one. Good performances a have been few and far between.

If Celtic want to win this league they are going to have to win it themselves. Last nights result at Tynecastle was favourable for us but lets not throw away a good opportunity.

Today, Deila must pick his best team based on form and opponent. If that means dropping underperforming players then I have no problem with that.

We need calm, authoritative players, particularly in the middle of the park. Wholesale changes are risky at this stage of the season but no less risky than underperforming seasoned campaigners playing week in week out.

Here’s how I think we will line-up today:

Gordon, Lustig, Tierney, Boyata, Mulgrew, Brown, Bitton, Rogic, Mackay-Steven, Johansen, Griffiths

Here’s how I think we should line-up today:

Gordon, Lustig, Tierney, Boyata, Mulgrew, Bitton, Armstrong, Rogic, McGregor, Roberts, Griffiths.

There’s no way Deila will drop Brown though, even though he’s been awful recently. He’s not alone in below par performances though.

As long as we get the result today, I don’t care who is on the park. We just don’t want to blow this one.

Step it up Bhoys.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Title twists

When I was writing my preview for Tuesday’s game at Dens Park, I wondered if this would be another of those ‘turning points’. Well, it wasn’t and Ronny Deila ended up with the same result when Paul Hartley brought his team to Celtic Park in March.

I didn’t see the game and I’m glad I didn’t either. Otherwise my wife would have been as just disappointed with our anniversary celebrations as I would have been with a 0-0 draw!

Worse still, Celtic blew their game at hand by dropping two points. This was a good opportunity to put daylight between ourselves and Aberdeen.

Instead, Derek McInnes will be encouraged by this slip up. He knows that if Aberdeen beat Celtic after the split they could potentially be 2 points off top spot.

With other points likely to be dropped by both teams, this makes for a nervy finish to the current season. If you’re a neutral or even interested in Scottish football it makes for good viewing.

In fairness to Dundee though they’re trying to secure a top six place. On recent performances I’d say they are on course but the truth is there are four teams in total battling it out with St Johnstone, Partick Thistle and Ross County also in the mix.

Celtic play Motherwell at Fir Park for their final match before the split. Mark McGhee has hauled the Lanarkshire club up the table to a very respectable 4th and his team will remain in the top six.

That won’t deter Motherwell from upsetting Celtic’s title chances though. We’ve been there before and they’ve also been the ones to spoil the show in the past.

Before that challenge on Saturday though, all eyes will be on Tynecastle on Friday night. With Hearts hosting Aberdeen, all Celtic fans will be hoping the Dons will drop points un the capital.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d much prefer Celtic to be winning this fight on their own but it is clear that this team haven’t got it in them right now. Too many players aren’t turning up in matches and at this point in the season you need a concerted effort by everyone.

If someone hasn’t been injured, they’ve been off form. That isn’t an excuse, that’s just football.

I never expected Celtic to win all of their remaining matches. In fact I even said that if we dropped points it doesn’t mean we’ve lost the league.

What I am concerned about is the attitude and character of the players. We saw against a dominant Hearts side at Celtic Park what sort of result could be achieved even though we weren’t as good as the visitors for most of the game.

Don’t think for a second that the towel is being thrown in though. This will be a battle to the death despite how unconvincing our performances have been.

The Scottish media have rallied around the promotion of the Championship winners and the ‘boost’ it will give the top flight. Well from my perspective it seems to have been doing just fine judging by the title challenges of the last two seasons.

Of course we welcome all newcomers to the Scottish Premiership. Just don’t belittle the battle that has been going on in the last two seasons between Celtic and Aberdeen by suggesting the arrival of the new Ibrox club are here to solve all that is wrong with our game.

Scottish football suffers through the mismanagement by its authorities and a self-serving biased media. The pro-Ibrox revival is hard to miss given how many folk are licking their lips across Scottish football and the media.

As I say though, it’s nice to have newcomers to football. We’ll give them the proper treatment when the time comes.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Crossroads

Yesterday’s home defeat at the hands of Motherwell was a disappointment for all concerned at Celtic. Although the Hoops remain top of the league with a game at hand, this result is another blow for Ronny Deila.

Opinion from the Celtic fans has been varied but the supporter axe has been falling on Ronny long before now. This is by no means a unanimous viewpoint but if fans were to vote today, I think you would find the manager would be out of a job tomorrow.

I have mixed feelings about what is going on at Celtic right now. As a club, we are almost untouchable in Scotland.

That’s down to fan base, marketing, financial structure, business acumen….all of that. However, what the club don’t do is turn the screw and we are not untouchable on the park.

Celtic have downgraded since the Martin O’Neill era. There are many reasons for that, one being that Scottish football is not a lucrative or positive market place.

So the club have cut their cloth accordingly. That means living within your means and just keeping ahead of your rivals.

Without a rival such as Oldco and their unlawful spending, Celtic can compete on a relatively low-budget. This of course has its problems such as being able to compete properly in Europe.

I’m not laying that down as the sole reason though. There are other factors that have ruined our European campaign but that’s another debate.

Tightening your belt is good but do Celtic need to be so frugal or do they need to be more savvy? Poor signings have been seen far too often in recent years and that spells frugal more than savvy.

Yes, you can’t get every player right, but what kind of scouting network do we have now that allows for this? It certainly doesn’t seem to be pulling in the best under Ronny Deila and whilst not always getting it right may be partly true, I don’t think this is the type of excuse Peter Lawwell should be giving at a club AGM.

The problem Celtic have right now is that there is an “x factor” of sorts missing from the team. The big question here is does that come down to the coaching or is it a lack of quality on the park?

As I’ve said before, I think we have the basis of a decent squad though some individuals have been a let down this season. What we seem to lack is a spark in the team that can change games.

Despite the club’s reduced spending, you need a player who can inspire the rest of the team. To get that player, you might need to spend that little extra.

I don’t buy that this sends out a negative message to other team members. Yes it’s a team game but the best players deserve the better money particularly when they can produce something out of nothing and in big games and big opposition.

Let’s put to one side the transfer market one moment though and focus on the coaching. Is there something in that area that hinders us?

First of all, Ronny Deila is a coach. A coach with a philosophy.

He maintains that outlook and continues to do things his way. For the time being he has the support of the board even if support from the fans continues to drop.

The problem is that if your philosophy is not bearing fruit, what else do you have? It is a dangerous game to play if you cannot adapt.

Adaptation is essential in football but I question what else Ronny has in his locker. I’ve not seen much evidence of changing tactics which as I say, is an important part of the game.

Before we’ve even kicked a ball though I do wonder whether half of these players are properly motivated. I’ve talked about the support for Ronny Deila from the players even in the face of defeat.

That kind of back up for the manager deflects blame from him. But is that really the case?

If so then perhaps these players just aren’t capable of carrying out Ronny’s master plan. Do you believe that though?

I often wonder if you installed another manager to motivate the current crop of players, without making any further purchases what sort of reaction you would get in the team? That would depend on who that coach was of course but I do think about what difference we might see – better or worse.

Once more though, I will say that I don’t think Ronny will be gone before the end of the season. If the treble is still on, change would only bring further disruption.

We would have to be on the slide domestically for anything to happen now. On the flip side, the only guarantee that Ronny will be in a job next season is a domestic treble.

It will certainly take that for him to get another crack at Europe. Anything less than that and there will be long discussion to see where the club go from there.

To ensure that discussion is not necessary, some motivation and inspiration will need to be found within this playing squad. I never expected Celtic to go the rest of the season undefeated but losing at home to third from bottom does not inspire supporters…..it dents your confidence.

Celtic are at a crossroads right now. This team needs an enema badly and to realise that this treble is all we’ve got.

It is in the hands of the coaching staff and the players. They are all responsible and they must do their job.

If they need motivation then listen to the unhappiness of the fans. Have a look at Aberdeen creeping behind them once more.

Every team in Scotland will do their utmost, as they should, to prevent Celtic from winning. If that isn’t enough motivation I don’t know what is.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

Time to move on

As a Celtic fan you have first hand knowledge of how it feels to support the club. So what sort of experience do you have when you’re a player at this moment at Celtic Football Club?

In previous blogs I’ve stated that the manager has criticised the players in the face of defeat(s). The players have backed that claim by stating they hadn’t performed well enough.

What’s going through my mind though is are all the players of the same opinion? I know the first season for Ronny Deila saw a few players dropped for varying reasons but now we’re in season two and I’d be interested to know what the real mood is currently.

The one thing I can say without a shadow of a doubt is that with the exception of Kris Commons’ dugout explosion in Norway, there is a sense of uniformity when talking to the media. As a squad, players have put their hands up to errors, missed opportunities and poor performances.

Not that I would expect a player revolt but I don’t get the sense that the players are unhappy with the coaching. In fact many players have spoken positively about Ronny Deila and the impact he has had on their careers.

Unless the Celtic PR machine are putting on a front, I’d say that European results aside, it’s a happy camp. Now that either means that our squad are so average they can’t see the bigger picture or they believe in the current set-up and we can’t see the bigger picture.

Ronny continues to speak positively and remains unshaken in his belief that he will lead Celtic to greener pastures. In basic terms of course that means the Champions League.

With two failed opportunities under his belt now, Ronny can at the very least look at both campaigns and compare and review. He also has two Europa League campaigns to analyse as well but that all depends on whether he’s prepared to look at his mistakes or just pursue each game with the same plan regardless.

You see for Ronny his philosophy is about playing the game in a certain way. All of the time.

In Scotland you might get away with that because you’re Celtic and generally untouchable. In Europe though, Celtic are much further down the food chain.

As supporters we know that, but we want to be in the respected hierarchy of the game. To do that sometimes you have to make sacrifices.

When you compare Martin O’Neill’s style to Gordon Strachan’s it is easy to spot the difference. Martin wanted Celtic to play the Celtic way (and he had some excellent talent) whilst Gordon would play the way which was most likely to get a result with less individual talent.

We all know which style of football we preferred out of the two. We also know who did better in the Champions League – and no I haven’t forgotten about Seville!

My point here is tactics, adaptation, personnel, resources, motivation and the big one – experience. Not just experience in the squad but on the coaching team.

Ronny has had a run in management for seven years so he isn’t new to the role but his assistants are. What he did with Strømsgodset didn’t happen overnight, it took time.

He imposed his philosophy over a period where it finally paid off after a few years. That was with a club who hadn’t lifted a title in over 40 years.

I’m not suggesting that we wait forever. However, what if that change of gear comes next season?

Many including myself have already debated whether Ronny should get another bite at the cherry. Or even if the board fancy taking another risk.

For the most part my personal view has been to review things at the end of the season. At the same time, I’ve sought assurances over what will change to improve our chances of getting into the Champions League from what we’ve seen these last two summers.

The financial situation is not going to change between now and then. Two seasons without Champions League cash has made certain of that.

Are we waiting on Ronny Deila suddenly changing direction with his philosophy? Well no because he is being given the opportunity to do at Celtic what he did with Strømsgodset because Celtic have few better options.

That is why I think he will be given longer. It’s not so much about the individual purchases.

For me it is about nurturing an entire set-up. Currently this grooming isn’t winning over fans or getting good European results.

All I can say is that if Ronny is here next season it isn’t just about improving from this season. Its about failing to improve in Europe from his first year in charge.

Yes, we’re not even halfway through the current season. We’ve dropped out of Europe earlier than the last season though and that’s a step back.

With the treble still available it has to be a priority to take all domestic honours. There will never be a better time to get it and let’s face it, this could be the turning point for Ronny Deila’s Celtic career and the kick-start required to see him into next season.

Yesterday, Hearts drew with Motherwell and Aberdeen beat Ross County. Celtic have a chance to widen the gap to 7 points with a victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the Caledonian Stadium.

John Hughes’ side aren’t in the same vein of form as they were last season. That doesn’t make a 12.15pm kick-off in Inverness any more pleasing though, particularly in light of Celtic’s Euro exit.

Now it’s time to forget about Europe and concentrate fully on the league and cups. Time to move on.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

In the moments after publishing this article, I discovered that Anthony Stokes vented his dissatisfaction on Twitter at being dragged up to Inverness only to discover he’ll be sitting in the stands. Being the most excluded senior player in the entire squad, I guess I can write him up as one player in opposition to Ronny Deila.