RONNY Deila has conceded he has been forced to abandon his footballing philosophy as he pursues multiple silverware in his first season as Celtic manager.
When he began his tenure as Neil Lennon’s successor in the summer, Deila was adamant he would not prioritise results ahead of performance levels while he sought to impose his own style of play at the Scottish champions.
Speaking in July before his first home competitive fixture in the job, Deila stated: “I will never say that – never”. But four months down the line, the Norwegian has been persuaded to adopt a far less idealistic stance as he adapts to the demands of his role at Celtic.
“I have to admit that I have ditched those principles a lot this season,” said Deila ahead of tomorrow’s Scottish Cup fourth round tie against Championship leaders Hearts at Tynecastle.
“Because I now understand it is a totally different environment here, compared to what I was used to before (at Stromsgodset in Norway).
“This is all about results – you have to win all the time. So you have to think short-term and also try to take small steps towards the long-term things as well.
“There is an intensity here to every game that comes along. I’m used to having seven days between games and being able to relax a little bit, reflect on the game and prepare for the next one.
“But as a manager and player here, you need to go further very quickly. You have to think about the next game the very next day.
“That’s something I’ve learned and that’s fine with me. But then things go slower when you are talking about development. But I think we have also done that quite well.
“You always have to find a balance between pushing and thinking short-term and being calm. I don’t change, I believe in the same things. But I understand that you don’t get a lot of time here.
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“You can see that Hearts have built up a new team but they used last season to do this. It’s then easier to play in the style you want – if you lose a couple of games, it’s no problem.
“But at Celtic, at all big clubs, the pressure for results is there all the time. We need to do things faster than you would do in a smaller club. If you lose games, you don’t develop. It’s also about that.
“You need good experiences – you need to get something out of the games. If you try something out and you lose, of course there’s this pressure and you can’t talk about development. Winning and developing together is the easiest thing and the best thing.
“I said when I came here on the first day that this is new for me and that I’m a quick learner. That’s how I have to assess everything I’m doing. I always have to be ahead and reflect a lot on what’s happening so I keep my focus – the goals have been very clear all the time.”
Having secured a place in the last 32 of the Europa League, despite Thursday night’s 3-1 home defeat against Salzburg, Celtic’s focus is now firmly on domestic matters as Deila continues to make no secret of his desire to win the treble in his maiden campaign.
Having finally led his team to their accustomed spot at the top of the Premiership, and reached the semi-finals of the League Cup where they will take on Rangers, Deila is determined to ensure his dream of a clean sweep is not ended by Hearts tomorrow.
“Every time I wake up in the morning, I see the treble in front of me,” he added. “That’s really the goal, to win everything, and I think that’s what the players are doing as well.
“But we have to think how we are going to achieve it. It is easy to talk about results. You have to do the job, and that starts every day with what we do in training and preparing for every game.
“I am very focused on the game on Sunday now. It’s a big game. If we can win it, we will put ourselves in a very good situation and we can have a fantastic spring. There will be so many interesting games. I get excited to talk about it.
“Sunday has been in my mind for a long time, I’m looking forward to it. I saw Hearts’ game against Rangers last week and I know it is going to be a fantastic atmosphere at Tynecastle. The players have been in that atmosphere many times, so they will cope with it.”
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