RONNY DEILA has only been in place as Celtic manager for a matter of weeks but he will
appreciate some words of support, particularly when he hears their source was his influential captain.
Of course, the Norwegian would prefer it if Scott Brown was able to assist him where it mattered, on the field of play.
But the skipper’s hamstring -tear, sustained in the first friendly of pre-season, means Brown must occupy a watching brief tomorrow in the city where he lives, as Celtic prepare to engage with the task of pulling back a three-goal deficit in their Champions League qualifying tie with Legia Warsaw.
Some have already declared it mission impossible, particularly since Celtic have surrendered the advantage of playing the game at Celtic Park, scene of last season’s rousing comeback against Shakhter Karagandy following a 2-0 first-leg defeat at the play-off stage.
Instead they will play at BT Murrayfield, the home of Scottish Rugby with Celtic Park still out of commission after being used to stage the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. The 4-1 defeat to Legia Warsaw means Deila is already operating under a degree of pressure.
Even though he was absent from the sidelines, Saturday’s 6-1 friendly defeat to Spurs in Helsinki has done little to improve the situation. But Brown has left no room for misinterpretation as he praised Deila’s input so far.
“It’s outrageous how good he has been,” said Brown, as he sat at Murrayfield Stadium and looked ahead to tomorrow’s match. He welcomed the changes implemented by Deila as the Norwegian continues to bring to bear his vision of how things should be done.
“He’s focused on football, how we can attack people’s weaknesses, he’s always watching videos, and other team’s videos,” said Brown. “How we can break people down, where are we stronger than other teams?
“If you ask any of the players in the Celtic dressing room every single of them enjoyed pre-season,” he added. “We were away in Austria for 12 days and we enjoyed every single training session. It was something different. It wasn’t the same old, same old, running up the hills and stuff like that.
“It was focused on working hard and pressing high. We’ve been trying to do that. People are always going to ask questions [of the manager],” he continued. “He’s a new man in charge and people will have their own view. Not everyone will agree but the 24 players in that dressing room all believe in the manager – and so should the Celtic fans as well.
“The gaffer believes that we have a good enough team that can pass the ball, and move. He’s shown us in videos that when we’ve been passing the ball and we’ve not been moving afterwards. If you look you will see Kris Commons passing the ball, running back and tracking. Leigh Griffiths too – he’s backtracking.
“It’s about attacking and defending as a team. Of course, if you’re under pressure you have to launch it but the gaffer understands that. He doesn’t want us to pussyfoot around at the back. But he believes in football.”
Some felt comments made at the end of last week by Neil Lennon, Deila’s predecessor, were unhelpful. Lennon suggested the defeat to Legia Warsaw had been on the cards, considering Celtic made so little investment over the summer. Brown was asked whether he, like Lennon, had seen the result in Warsaw coming. “What, a 4-1 defeat?” he said, as if emphasising how ridiculous this suggestion was.
Although a faithful lieutenant of Lennon’s, Brown has now nailed his colours firmly to the new manager’s mast.
“People always come and go at football clubs,” he said. “The manager has only been here four or five weeks and it’s been hard for him to find players and bring them in. He didn’t know at the end of last season he was getting this job and he’s be scouting for players for Celtic.”
Brown assured anyone who thought otherwise that all the players in the dressing-room are supportive of the new manager, and are buying into his ideas. Now it is up to these players to ensure Deila can celebrate a famous achievement as manager by rescuing the tie.
“That’s when your good players come into it and under pressure you can take a good touch and find a pass instead of panicking,” he said.
“We have top players in Kris [Commons] and Charlie [Mulgrew] who can see that and others who can score goals. If the crowd get behind us, it can be a good Champions League occasion – and I’m sure they will.”