RONNY Deila has accepted he will deserve to be sacked as Celtic manager if he fails to retain the Scottish Premiership title this season.
But the bullish Norwegian insists there has been an over-reaction to his team’s 2-1 defeat at Pittodrie on Saturday which allowed Aberdeen to subsequently open up a five-point lead at the top of the table with their 1-0 win over Hamilton Accies on Tuesday night.
If we don’t win the league, sack me. We are going to win the leagueRonny Deila
On the back of last month’s elimination from the Champions League against Malmo, it has intensified the scrutiny of Deila as Celtic prepare to open their Europa League group campaign against Ajax in Amsterdam tonight.
He remains unfazed by talk of a crisis and rumours of unrest at the Scottish champions, however, and is adamant they will see off the domestic challenge being posed by Aberdeen.
“If we don’t win the league, sack me,” said Deila. “That’s no problem. We are going to win the league. We are going to prove that in the coming matches. Slaughter me if we don’t win the league.
“I think Celtic have lost in Aberdeen before, no? I don’t know, I think that might have happened in the past. So please, I’m very confident in my team. I’m so confident in what we are doing. So let’s keep this in perspective. We are going to play another 31 matches. We are going to win the league.
“We have a clear goal. Talk to me in April and we will see where we are. We are very confident we are going to be top of the table when we come to the end of the season.
“It’s easy to talk about the league after just seven rounds of games but let’s keep a bit of perspective. I understand people think this is fun to talk about but we are still in a good position. We are going to play Aberdeen three more times, so it is very early to talk about the title.
“We won the title by 17 points last season. We have won five out of seven games so far this season. So it is unbelievable to talk about this now.
“Yes, we lost to Aberdeen on Saturday but we have won four out of our last five games against them. So now everything is s**t? I don’t go with that.”
Deila was reported to have held talks with Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell in the wake of the Aberdeen defeat but he insists there was no added significance to their discussions.
“Me and Peter speak every day,” added Deila. “We have a very close relationship. He is a big support for me and a fantastic leader. It was a routine thing, nothing major.”
Deila does appreciate that Celtic’s recent form has become a cause for concern among many of their supporters.
“Of course, of course,” he said. “That’s how football is. The fans are with you but they also ask questions when you are not doing well. That’s something I deal with very well.
“I can assure all the fans I am asking questions of myself every single minute. This is not work, it is a lifestyle when you live through it all the time. Everyone at the club wants to change this around and make it different.
“But when you look at the big picture, we are in four competitions. We are going to play a lot of games and we have at least six more games in Europe. There is so much to play for.
“Everyone has to see the big picture. It comes down to small details. You saw Manchester City lost to Juventus and Manchester United lose to PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League this week on small margins..
“Everything is possible in football, it is such small details when it comes to winning and losing. The most important thing is to stick together and believe in what we are doing. We will bounce back.
“Every team has bad periods. Of course, it has been a very tough few days for us but we have to bounce back and get the team ready for the next game.
“The players know they have so much to play for. It’s the first game in the Europa League now and I’m really looking forward to it. If we can get a positive result in Amsterdam, it will be a very, very good start.”
Croatian under-21 international centre-back Jozo Simunovic is set to make his Celtic debut tonight following his £5.5 million capture from Dinamo Zagreb on transfer deadline day. He is the likely replacement for Charlie Mulgrew who did not travel yesterday because of a thigh injury which could sideline him for two weeks.
Stuart Armstrong misses out again with a back problem which is taking longer to resolve than Deila initially anticipated, but Emilio Izaguirre is available again.