‘No lounging’ for Celtic on January break

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CELTIC will be heading for warmer climes in January but Ronny Deila is in no hurry to swap the intensity of his technical area for a sunny beach.

The Celtic manager has confirmed that the Scottish champions are set to take part in an invitational tournament with Dutch side PSV Eindhoven and Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk in Gran Canaria when they take a one-week winter break from the Scottish Premiership at the start of the new year.

Ronny Deila confirmed the team will go away in January. Picture: John Devlin

Ronny Deila confirmed the team will go away in January. Picture: John Devlin

It will provide Deila and his players with some respite from a domestic schedule which he hopes will still involve all three competitions. That depends on Celtic emerging successfully from their Scottish Cup fourth round tie against Hearts at Tynecastle tomorrow.

The relentless nature of the challenges facing Deila in his first season in the job also features an Old Firm League Cup semi-final on the horizon, along with the knockout phase of the Europa League which Celtic reached despite losing 3-1 at home to Salzburg on Thursday night.

But far from seeking some down time of his own, Deila insists he simply can’t get enough of the demands of being in charge of Celtic.

“You are addicted to the pressure,” he said. “You hate it and you love it. I wonder about the day I wake up and I don’t have it.

“Sometimes you think of lying on a beach in Spain and not having it but I would miss this. You are in the fire and I love to be there. I love to be down and I love to be up and you try to be in between. That’s what I’ve been doing for 20 years in football.”

Deila was determined to accentuate the positives when assessing his team’s performance against a Salzburg side which raced into a 2-0 lead after just 13 minutes and would not have been flattered by a far greater advantage before Stefan Johansen pulled a goal back for Celtic before half-time.

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“I don’t enjoy being two goals down after 13 minutes and I was hurting inside,” added Deila. “But it’s part of the job. Sometimes we have to understand that the opponent is good as well.

“If we are playing sh*t and the opponent is playing sh*t, then that’s the worse feeling. And also when we win but are so poor, I hate it. First is attitude. If you do everything we can and lose because of the details, then you have to learn from it. But to lose with a bad attitude, then you want to do something else.

“But the players showed their character on Thursday. If we had a weak team there, it could have been ugly for us. You saw Salzburg scoring five in Zagreb, but we got ourselves back in the game and could have had 2-2. That was very positive.

“I knew it was going to be a very tough game because Salzburg’s level is very high. I saw the results they’ve had lately, and also last year when they beat Ajax easily. They also beat Bayern Munich in pre-season as well.

“So I knew it would be a hard game and tough test for us. They went for us from the start and we didn’t cope well with it. That was disappointing, especially at set plays which we have been very good at defending all season.

“To concede two early goals was not what I wanted but I’m proud of the way we got back into the game. We got it to 2-1 and in the second half it was Salzburg who had to defend.

“That was something which was missing against Maribor and Legia earlier in the season, getting that kind of pressure on the opponent instead of standing off and hoping things are going to happen.

“The crowd got behind us as well, so I take a lot of positives from what we did in the second half. I was disappointed to lose, but we have gone through to the last 32 and that is a good achievement.

“It is also very important for us when it comes to the January transfer window. If you speak to a player about signing for Celtic, you can tell him about playing in the Europa League knockout stage, hopefully two domestic cups and also trying to win the league. It’s very positive for the players who are here and the ones we want to bring in. We can say to players ‘Come to us and play in Europe’.”

Deila expects to be able to welcome potential new signings to Celtic’s winter training camp in Gran Canaria.

“It is not confirmed yet but we are talking about it,” he said. “PSV and Shakhtar could be good opponents for us there. I went to the same tournament two years ago when I was manager of Stromsgodset. The environment is good.”

Deila has concerns over the fitness of central defender Jason Denayer and midfielder Charlie Mulgrew for tomorrow’s trip to Tynecastle.

“We don’t know if Jason will be ready,” he said. “He still has pain in his ankle and wasn’t able to play against Salzburg. Charlie took a knock on his ribs in that game, so we’ll see if he can be ready.

“Going to Tynecastle will be as tough as visiting any Premiership ground. Hearts are the best team in the Championship right now and they have a lot of confidence.”

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