Ronny Deila has rejected suggestions Celtic have under-achieved by failing to win the domestic treble since the financial collapse of their traditional rivals Rangers four years ago.
In the three full seasons without the Ibrox club in the top flight so far, Celtic have won five of the nine major honours up for grabs in Scottish football.
But while they have been crowned league champions each year, the treble has eluded them, with St Mirren, Aberdeen, St Johnstone and Inverness Caledonian Thistle all winning either the League Cup or Scottish Cup during that period.
Deila has made no secret of his ambition to join Jock Stein and Martin O’Neill on the list of Celtic managers to win the treble. It is a feat managed just 10 times in the 69 seasons it has been possible – seven times by Rangers and three times by Celtic.
But Deila does not believe the treble is necessarily a likelier prospect as a consequence of Rangers’ diminished status of recent years.
“How can I judge myself from what was before?” said the Celtic manager. “I can only deal with what is now. We always have respect for the other teams. The teams are developing – Aberdeen are taking more points, Hearts are getting better and more consistent and they are a tougher team to meet.
“It is important to give others credit as well and not say that everything is so bad now. Why do we play football here if everything is so easy? You could just give us the three trophies at once if that was the case.
“Not so many have done the treble but all the managers have tried. You can see how hard it is. You can’t do anything about the pressure or the results, you can do something about the performances and get the team to develop in the right direction.
“Maybe it was harder before but it hasn’t been done since Rangers left, so it can’t be so easy. Neil Lennon is a good manager but didn’t win the treble. And like you saw last season with us in the Scottish Cup semi-final, it is about small details. We won a lot of games, we won the league, we won the League Cup but the treble is not done easily.”
Ahead of tomorrow’s League Cup semi-final against Ross County at Hampden, Deila also confirmed Hibs’ on-loan Celtic duo Liam Henderson and Anthony Stokes will not be allowed to play against their parent club should the
Easter Road side beat St Johnstone at Tynecastle today to set up a potential final against the Scottish champions.
“I thought it was a rule here anyway,” said Deila. “I have seen it when we met other teams on loan and they don’t play against us.”
Celtic captain Scott Brown, sidelined since November with a knee injury, is back in full training and could return to Deila’s squad tomorrow.
“Scott is close to playing again,” he said. “But he has been out for a while, so we will see how he is.”