CELTIC manager Ronny Deila has admitted to a degree of concern over his team’s stuttering start to the defence of the Scottish Premiership title after their 1-1 draw at home to Motherwell.
It leaves the champions five points behind pace-setters Dundee United and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, albeit with a game in hand. Although still at a formative stage of the season, Deila is anxious to see his players find a greater degree of consistency.
“We are always looking at the league table because of course we want to win the league,” he said. “We can’t have many more days like this and we need to make sure we win at St Mirren next Saturday.”
Deila made six changes to his starting line-up yesterday, following Thursday night’s 2-2 draw away to Red Bull Salzburg in the Europa League, and saw his reshuffled side trail 1-0 at half-time to a John Sutton goal.
It prompted him to call both captain Scott Brown and Kris Commons from the bench at the start of the second half, the pair sparking a much improved level of performance and combining to earn and convert the penalty kick which secured a point. But Deila has warned the rest of his players they cannot always count on being bailed out by Brown and Commons.
“You cannot rely on just one or two players,” added Deila. “We need to get the whole squad up to the right level. We need to create leaders out on the pitch for when Scott and Kris are not there.
“Maybe six changes to the team was too much. But I don’t want to rotate the squad that much, it was just needed today because of the players we had out injured and the new players coming in who need to play to stay in shape.
“Some of them looked a bit afraid in the first half and didn’t know how to open Motherwell up. We made it difficult for ourselves with such a poor first half. We had no tempo, no forward passes and didn’t break Motherwell down once. That’s not good enough.”
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall was pleased to take a point from the match, despite frustration at John Sutton’s failure to convert a simple chance which would have made it 2-0 and referee Brian Colvin’s refusal of a penalty for his team when an Iain Vigurs shot struck Celtic’s Jason Denayer on a hand.
“We are just ecstatic at actually scoring a goal here,” said McCall. “That’s the first we’ve scored at Celtic Park since I became manager. If it wasn’t for a great save by Denayer, we could have had a second and the lads all felt it was a penalty.
“John scored a great goal but he should have scored a second one. I think even I could have put that one away, but he scuffed it wide. But overall we are happy with the effort. We were camped in after Brown and Commons came on, so we are delighted with a point.”