Pat Bonner has expressed surprise at Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell’s public declaration of faith in manager Ronny Deila’s ability to lead the club into next season’s Champions League qualifiers.
Lawwell gave Deila his backing at Celtic’s AGM last Friday, responding to concerns over the Norwegian coach’s poor European record during his 18-month tenure so far. After two consecutive failed attempts to reach the group stage of the Champions League, Celtic are currently bottom of their Europa League group with two games left. They can still reach the knockout stage if they defeat Ajax at Celtic Park on Thursday night and also win in Istanbul against Fenerbahce on 10 December.
Celtic legend Bonner believes European progress remains critical to being regarded as a successful manager of the club and feels Lawwell has now placed himself in a position where Deila’s services must be retained regardless of the remaining Europa League results this season.
“Peter said he is going to trust him, didn’t he?” said Bonner. “The fans may question it but the only guys who can make the decisions are the board and Peter Lawwell, as chief executive. From that perspective, he has come out and said it, so I don’t think he can go back on his word now, could he?
“I’m only maybe surprised that it is out publicly.
“We are in November and I have always said they won’t do anything with the manager until after Christmas or into next year when they see how things are going.
“So now is the time to come out and say: Listen, get on with it. They are top of the league, but they still have to try and get out of this Europa League group and the two games left are big games. That doesn’t change.”
Bonner, who holds the all-time appearance record for a Celtic goalkeeper, irked Deila last month when he suggested that winning a domestic title and cup double, in conjunction with progress in Europe, would be the only way to guarantee his job safety.
“It is nothing personal,” said an unabashed Bonner yesterday. “I would love to see Ronny Deila being the most successful manager in the history of Celtic. But you have to look at what happens on the pitch and say what you see. What I said was that you would expect the Celtic manager in this current climate to win the league. You would expect maybe a cup would be a good one. A treble would be very difficult to win because very few managers have won the treble.
“Getting out of the Europa League group stage after getting knocked out of the Champions League would be an obvious target. I would stand by that. I don’t see that being too much. I think the fans would see that also. I would like to think that Ronny would see it.”