AN EMOTIONAL Ronny Deila savoured the ideal finale to his managerial tenure at Celtic and expressed his certainty that the team he leaves behind will maintain the club’s domestic dominance by winning a sixth successive title next season.
One of Celtic’s best performances under Deila was saved until last as they crushed Motherwell 7-0 before receiving the Premiership trophy and celebrating five-in-a-row.
It was the perfect ending for me. It was very tough emotionally. It’s hard to speak about itRonny Deila
The Norwegian, who appeared close to tears at times during the post-match revelries and his final media conference in the job, admitted some aspects of his two years in charge were “very bad”.
But Deila was able to bow out on a positive note as Celtic finished the season 15 points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the table. It is a gulf he insists will not be bridged by any of their rivals next year.
“Yes, I am sure it will be six in a row,” said Deila. “There is so much talent at Celtic. We are 15 points ahead after Aberdeen lost today and that gap is tough to close. I don’t think that will happen next year.
“It was perfect today, it was a dream – to win 7-0 on a sunny day with a great atmosphere. It was a very good performance from a young team who I believe are the future of this club.
“It was the perfect ending for me. It was a very tough day emotionally. It’s hard to speak about it. I am grateful to have been here.
“I have learned so much in two fantastic years. I am just going to enjoy the new life now. There will be new opportunities but these two years will always be special to me.
“It’s difficult to talk about my emotions right now. I am on a high but being a manager is a lifestyle, you are always working and trying to improve and be ahead of things. It’s been like that for two years. Maybe in a week from now, my shoulders will slump and I will be a little down. I’ll probably sleep for three weeks! Right now, it’s too much to take in.
“I still think it’s the right decision to leave. I felt right after I made it. But after that it is tough. At the same time, there have been ups and downs for me here and you have to be honest to say that.
“There have been things that were very good and things that were very bad. But I think what you saw today is something that can be built on.
“With new, fresh energy coming in, I think Celtic will go for more trophies and hopefully there are better results in Europe.”
Deila also expressed his gratitude to the Celtic supporters for the warm ovation they afforded him after the match. “It means a lot,” he said. “Football is emotion, football is about relationships, life is about relationships. You can talk about money, you can talk about a nice car, about a nice house, it is nothing to do with happiness. Happiness is about relationships.
“When you have people around you who support you and love you then you can grow. It is so important for this team. People understand that things have been up and down, but you can only do your best and be humble. Enough is enough.”
One of Deila’s final acts as Celtic manager was to give Jack Aitchison his first team debut. At 16 years and 71 days old, the striker became both Celtic’s youngest ever first team player and goalscorer as he made it 7-0 with his first touch of the ball.
“It’s just brilliant, an amazing feeling,” said Aitchison. “I was training and I got pulled into the squad this week. It’s amazing. I’ve been dreaming of this since being a wee boy. It was a great atmosphere when I scored, I didn’t know what to do! Hopefully I’ll get more opportunities.”
Motherwell manager Mark McGhee admitted he feared a repeat of the 9-0 drubbing he suffered at Celtic Park six years ago when he was in charge of Aberdeen.
“Was I thinking about it? Absolutely,” he said. “When you are six down after 56 minutes of course you are. To get to 90 minutes at seven wasn’t a bad result.
“It’s a horrible feeling, too right it is. This has happened to me before. That day I felt I had a team that was capable of losing 9-0. I didn’t think I had a side that was capable of losing 7-0 today. That’s why I am more surprised than anything.
“We didn’t pass the ball and we didn’t work hard enough as a team. We looked as though we had downed tools and were ready for the summer. I’m not going to dwell on it because our players have done brilliantly recently.
“But we ran out of energy today. It’s disappointing but we will go away, lick our wounds and be ready after the summer.”