NORWEGIAN managers in British football used to be notable only for one thing – failing to last long in their posts.
It is not just winning the title yesterday that sets Celtic manager Ronny Deila apart from his compatriots – simply seeing out a whole season proved beyond such as Egil Olsen at Wimbledon, Stale Solbakken with Wolves and, most recently, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in Cardiff.
Deila has often said that progress and the continual quest for self-improvement requires humility. But one of the reasons he gives for not going the way of his countrymen could be said to lack that virtue.
“I don’t know them that well, but I think what makes me different is the way I lead,” the 39-year-old said. “I think it’s about the personality I am. I’m not saying I’m better but I’m different. What I also did well was to choose the right club. It was so hard at Cardiff for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with everything that was going on there. It was the same for Solbakken. Wolves sold their best players. It’s hard to say that I am better than them. I’ve had a little bit of luck as well.”
Luck is surely managing a club that cannot fail to win the title because their budget and infrastructure dwarfs all others. That is also a curse, inasmuch as no great credit is ever given for leading the club to the championship – a fact acknowledged by Deila’s predecessor Neil Lennon.
“I can understand what he said. I can really understand that because expectation is like that,” he said. “But again, you have to look at the history. There have been spells when Celtic has been good, spells when Rangers has been good so you have to really, really enjoy when you are on the top and there is nothing that you can take for granted.
“Neil did a very, very good job here and I hope I, and we, can just continue developing what he done and make the era for Celtic like it was with Rosenborg, 13 years, or what Jock Stein did with the club. That is very hard. Neil also said to win one time is not the hardest, but the hardest is to win again. Then you show if you are a real manager or a good club.
“I am proud of how we have gone through it. I can look myself in the mirror every day and know that I have been working hard to do the best for the club and the people that work for me. And also tried to make other people happy; that is important, it is why we do things. In this club everything means something to somebody and what has happened here with the support shows they appreciate what we are doing. That is the most important thing. That is why you do football.”
Rosenborg’s coaching guru Nils Arne Eggen, meanwhile, provides Deila – who considers himself a life coach as much as a football manager – with the example of success. “He’s the manager I’m closest to in Norwegian football. He’s the role model for me. He’s a genius. He has taught Norwegian football, and me, a lot. [He didn’t leave Norway, but] why leave something that’s so unbelievable successful to go abroad?
“He won with a small club in 1987, a bit like we did with Strømsgodset. He also did it selling his best players. He was insistent that players shouldn’t leave too early and I agree with that. They should stay in a good environment and do well over a number of seasons.”