Monday, November 29, 2021
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Why Celtic are sacking title-winning manager Ronny Deila

Ronny Deila with Celtic trophies (courtesy of Sky Sports)Amid the euphoria that has engulfed the blue half of Glasgow since Rangers’ unexpected Scottish Cup semi-final victory against Celtic last weekend, a number of burning questions have slowly but surely emerged.



For example: can Rangers really mount a serious challenge to Celtic for the Premier League crown next season? How much money will the Ibrox directors invest in playing staff this summer, in a bid to maintain the momentum behind Rangers’ recovery since their financial meltdown four years ago? Will Rangers end the season by lifting their first Scottish Cup since 2009?


Such questions are hogging the back pages, but there’s another that has been building for some weeks now. And since Sunday’s events it has assumed particular resonance – could Celtic boss Ronny Deila seriously hold on to his job beyond the end of this campaign? Well, 72 hours on, and we know the answer to that one.


Deila’s position had certainly come under close scrutiny – such is the way of it with the Old Firm, and as the old saying goes, any Celtic or Rangers manager is only ever two games away from a crisis! – and some of his own side’s fans had taken to criticising the team. To be fair, while Celtic appear destined to win the league this season, many of their performances along the way have been anything but convincing.


Of course, many of a Celtic persuasion are quite baffled by this, claiming that it’s simply ridiculous to call for the sacking of a manager who is on the verge of delivering what will be the club’s fifth league crown in a row, with the last two of those coming during his watch. Add to that the undeniable fact that Deila has had to work with a much-reduced budget (and players of a poorer standard) than some of his recent predecessors, and that he seems to be a decent sort of chap, and you could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about.


So, what’s the problem? To an extent, it’s been suggested that a malaise has taken root at Celtic Park, at least in part down to the boredom inflicted by the absence of a genuine title contender. This boredom has manifested itself in moderate signings, a playing style that does little to quicken the pulse, and crowds that have diminished over the course of a turgid season.


To be fair, Aberdeen did their level best to hang on to Celtic’s coat tails, and for all the Dons’ inconsistency and infuriating habit of blowing chances to catch up when Celtic unexpectedly dropped points, they have at least ensured that we enter the final clutch of games with the title not yet confirmed.


However, the fact is that the distinct lack of a serious treat to Celtic has led to Deila’s team appearing lacklustre, complacent and unimaginative.


So, were league titles those past two seasons really all but guaranteed? Too right they were. Rangers were toiling away in the lower leagues, so too big clubs like Hibernian and Hearts for the most part.


The trouble for Deila was that, with domestic supremacy assumed in the eyes of the Scottish football fraternity, his abilities were judged in Europe. And frankly, his two forays into the Champion League qualifiers (both failed) and subsequent flirting with the Europa League group stages were disastrous and embarrassing.


Therefore the league and cup double this season was considered to be the minimum requirement for Deila to have the remotest chance of retention into a third season at the helm. That is why Sunday’s timid capitulation at the hands of their old rivals was for many not so much the straw that broke the camel’s back, as the straw that crushed the camel into powder and trampled it into the dirt.


Deila would have known that defeat against Rangers would not be tolerated, since for all the latter had improved since their one-sided clash last year, Rangers could hardly boast the quality and depth of squad at his disposal.



The haunted look Deila wore for the most part during the semi-final did little to betray the fact he probably knew his time was almost up, and it will be of little consolation to him that previous (and more successful) Old Firm bosses have bitten the dust in light of their failure to overcome their old rivals. Deila has confirmed that he will be leaving Celtic at the end of this season, and the league title celebrations will quickly fade as the champions seek the man who will look to defend the title, and consider how to negotiate the Champions League qualifiers.

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