GIVEN his views on the correct diet for a professional footballer, it is perhaps unsurprising that Celtic manager Ronny Deila wishes to put a carrot on the end of a stick to entice Kris Commons to sign a new contract.
Talks have been ongoing with the 31-year-old midfielder since Neil Lennon was manager. After Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Hamilton Accies, the need to sort out the future of one of the club’s most creative players has become even more pressing.
Deila plans to make signing a new long-term contract sound appealing to Commons by integrating the player into the coaching set-up at the club, along with current skipper Scott Brown. Commons was the match winner in the 1-0 Europa League victory over Dinamo Zagreb last Thursday night and his worth to the club is obvious.
Now Deila wants to help him fulfil his coaching ambitions with the youths at Celtic, an offer he hopes will help Commons decide to end his career at the club.
Deila revealed that both Commons and Brown have expressed an interest in becoming a manager at a future date.
“It is hard but they can try,” smiled Deila, who is currently experiencing just how perilous management can be as he seeks to prove he has what it takes to succeed at Celtic.
“We have good dialogue now about this,” said Deila with reference to Commons’ contract, which is due to expire at the end of this season.
“That is going forward all the time. Kris wants to stay and we want to keep him and I think that is the most important thing, so things will be arranged.
“They [the talks] have been very positive. He loves the club and wants to stay. Both him and Scott want to have a future in football after [they finish playing] football as well – they want to try to be manager.
“We can help them into those areas as well – we can help them think about what they want to do after their careers. It is good knowledge to have and experience to have working with youths.”
Deila believes that beginning to learn about coaching while still a player can prove very productive on the field. “It can be a positive thing even if you are playing as well,” he said. “I have had a good experience with players who have some coaching experience – they think about what I really mean and they learn how to express themselves to others, and that gives them a better understanding of the game. That’s a new task for them. And you get leadership from that.”
Asked whether Commons might be prepared to make a financial sacrifice in order to stay at the club, the manager said: “I think so. We also have to be happy that he wants to stay. He is an important player for us – he showed that with his goal [against Dinamo Zagreb].
“He is also a player with a good attitude, he wants to get better and he wants to improve. He works hard. That will make him a better player as well.”
On the prospect of the lively Brown becoming a manager, Deila added: “We will see! He has a lot of the skills that I think are important to have as a manager.”
Brown was seething after Sunday’s home defeat to Accies, which left Celtic lying in sixth position in the league at the latest international break. Indeed, he was described as being “at odds” with his manager as he faced the press afterwards.
While Brown conceded that his side “didn’t deserve anything” Deila was adamant that the performance deserved three points, and showed signs of “progression”.
Midfielder Stefan Johansen agreed that Celtic had wasted enough chances to win the game but disagreed with Deila regarding the performances. “It was not good enough,” he said. “We wanted to get an early goal but we couldn’t manage to do it. Even in the second half, we had a lot of big chances but we didn’t finish them. We’re disappointed we couldn’t win this game.”
Speaking to Celtic’s official website, Johansen added: “We expected that approach from Hamilton. They’ve done well in the league but we were playing at Celtic Park and we should win anyway. Our performance was just not good enough.”
Johansen is now preparing to play two Euro 2016 qualifiers for Norway against Malta and Bulgaria. He has already played 18 times this season for club and country but he is adamant that fatigue is not to blame for Celtic’s poor record so far this season.
“Tiredness is not a factor,” he said. “We should enjoy playing matches. Playing games is what we play football for. Excuses like tiredness or whatever, won’t come from me. I want to play matches. At this moment, I’m still very disappointed.”