I like what I hear

Evolution seems to be at the forefront of Ronny Deila’s philosophy. Less than a year ago, many were willing to go all “Le Guen” on him.

We saw how the French revolution turned out at Oldco. At Celtic, I like the Norwegian approach and how that is turning out.

Celtic have tried things their way for a good few years. This new way forward excites me.

A smaller squad to accommodate the youth who are filtering through. Why weren’t we doing this sooner?

Tommy Burns was pursuing youth development in the mid-90’s. He got some backing but not the full backing he desired.

Today Ronny is getting that backing and I welcome it. Too many squad players on salaries they don’t deserve have drained the club for too long.

Give youth a chance and see just how good your investment is. Ronny is suggesting a suitable squad size is not far away from being achieved.

This is the way forward, particularly where youth development is concerned. The prospect of actually seeing young players getting the opportunity is long overdue.

Yes, we’ve seen the odd young player break onto the scene like Maloney, McGeady and more recently Forrest. That’s one player in every generation that makes it as a regular.

Personally, I’d like to see three or four youth players amongst the ranks regularly. There’s little point investing in youth if you just ship them out once they reach maturity.

Fortunately, Ronny has youth in mind and a squad size to allow those players to filter into the team. Again, this excites me.

All the managers Celtic have had for the last couple of decades have all built Celtic teams by buying players from England and the continent. This ever decreasing spending budget has seen the high spending of the Martin O’Neill days slide to the point where one of his biggest purchases, Neil Lennon, had little to spend when he eventually took the hot seat.

With Ronny Deila, there has been money to spend but Celtic cannot compete with the top clubs. Salaries as well as transfer fees leave Celtic well out of the game.

It was reported that players such as Steven Fletcher and Ikechi Anya were priced of the market for Celtic’s wage structure even if the transfer fees weren’t. Whether these moves were even on the cards doesn’t matter, the point is Celtic must get these kind of players before their wages become the issue.

So if there was ever a reason to utilise the youth you’ve invested in, it is this. Bring in the best, coach them for the first team, play them and pay them what you can afford.

If these players are looking for a bigger salary than Celtic can afford, they’ll need to prove themselves first before they can get those high end wages. At least the club should get something in return if they do move on, as well as having got the use of their services by actually giving them a chance.

In the past Celtic have had some mishaps with players such as Liam Miller who broke onto the scene only to show his true nature by jumping ship. Nobody would have predicted that a player who had been given tremendous support by the club through his injury hell and then given a regular place in the team would have carried out such disloyalty by leaving to join Manchester United for free.

Still, Miller got what he deserved which was a career without much success. I won’t hide my bitterness on this or lie when I say I enjoyed watching his career slide.

You cannot account for players like him, you just have to nurture them and give them a chance. If they choose to stab you in the back that’s out with your control.

More recently, an ill-advised Islam Feruz left Celtic for Chelsea. Again, Celtic were powerless in his move south but it is again another example of disloyalty you cannot account for.

Still, this should never deter you from nurturing young players. They are the lifeblood of the club and all want to make it even if some won’t but if you don’t give them chance you’ll never know.

I look forward to phase two of Ronny Deila’s plans for the team. Leaner, faster with more opportunity for youth.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac


Change is never easy, but time is on our side.

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.

Hail! Hail!