Pat Bonner believes Ronny Deila must win a League and Cup double and qualify for the knock- out phase of the Europa League if he is to be trusted to lead the Parkhead side next season.
Legendary Celtic goalkeeper Bonner feels the failure to qualify for the Champions League in each of the last two seasons coupled with lamentable displays against mediocre opposition this season in the shape of Malmö and, most recently, Molde has cast serious aspersions on Deila’s ability to continue as manager.
Bonner knows that any Celtic manager is now gauged on performance in Uefa competition and Deila has a big job on his hands to continue to enjoy the support of majority shareholder Dermot Desmond and chief executive Peter Lawwell. but the Irish keeper, who played nearly 650 games for Celtic between 1979 and 1995 and now works as a radio pundit, is unsure if the Norwegian will succeed.
Celtic lost to Legia Warsaw in qualifying for the Champions League last season and were reinstated when the Polish champions fielded an ineligible player, only to fall to Slovenians Maribor in their quest to reach the lucrative group stage.
Deila recovered to lead Celtic out of the Europa League groups to run Inter Milan close in the round of 32 but, having been eliminated from the Champions League again this season, his side is now toiling to progress in the Europa League.
Bonner said: “If he can’t get out of this Europa League group and doesn’t win another double then it’s going to be very difficult for him.
“That’s what he’ll be judged on. Europe’s been a big disappointment in many ways, there’s no question about that.
“Unfortunately for Celtic managers now, compared to my day, getting into the Champions League is the benchmark.
“That’s the ultimate goal and if you don’t get there then you’ve got to do well in the Europa League – get out of the group at least.
“They still have a chance and I think Celtic have probably played better against the better teams, as they seemed to do against Inter Milan last year. But, for me, the disappointing thing has been how they’ve set themselves up to play in Europe. I think you have to change and adapt in Europe but they persevere with playing two full-backs pushed forward all the time. They play as if they are playing at Parkhead and European teams pick them off because they know how to play against them.”
Celtic were made to look second class last week by Molde, who won 3-1 to take control of their Europa League group, but Bonner feels Sunday’s 5-0 thrashing of Dundee United was cathartic in more ways than one as Tynecastle awaits tomorrow night.
He said: “It was important to get back on the winning way and get the Kris Commons thing out of the road and that looked very harmonious with him scoring two goals.
“Dundee United were poor but it was good for Celtic. They needed that result to show a reaction to get the fans onside, but the big game is looming on Wednesday night and that will be another huge test.
“But Celtic will have been boosted by that win at the weekend and I’m hoping that they’ve put that performance in Molde behind them.
“Personally I didn’t like to see what Commons did. I think those things are best kept in private. There’s always a reaction from a player who is taken off after he scores, but it was the prolonged manner of his actions that I didn’t like. But they’ve sorted it out and, hopefully, that’s the end of it. “
• Pat Bonner was promoting a new Ladbrokes ‘Track Your Acca’ app which allows punters to track their bets and cash out on the go. For full details, log on to thegrid.ladbrokes.com