Ronny Deila yesterday rejected criticism, both internal and external, of the job he is doing at Celtic and declared that the media and the public need to show greater “respect” for Scottish football.
The Celtic manager dismissed the emergence of an online petition circulating among his own supporters demanding Deila’s resignation, with his side leading the Ladbrokes Premiership as they prepare for a key encounter with Hearts at Tynecastle on Sunday.
However, the Norwegian insisted that the absence of Rangers does not dilute anything he achieves at Celtic and that everyone should offer more credit to Aberdeen and Hearts for doing well on small budgets.
Deila said the argument over the presence of Celtic’s Glasgow rivals in the top flight, with a better financial clout than current title contenders Aberdeen, is deeply flawed and pointed to England and Norway for proof.
“Should Leicester be in front of Manchester United and Manchester City? Should Stromsgodset win the Norwegian league in front of Rosenborg and Molde? That’s football,” said Deila.
“It’s not about money. Money is an important thing, of course. It gives you a better chance of being on top all the time but money does not make you the number one at once. That’s the big difference.
“When you have peace and consistency at a club everything is possible and that’s what Aberdeen have. It makes them a good football team. You have to respect the other club as well.
“You talk to me about respecting the other clubs. Of course I do. You have to respect them as well. Respect the league. To say we don’t have a rival is less respectful of the other clubs. They are training and professional every day.
“But the main thing to remember here is that Celtic have won the league the last four years. You can’t do much better than that. I think it has been over ten points every times as well. I don’t see any other leagues where that is the same.
“So you have to give us some credit as well. It’s not easy to just go out every day to just win, win, win. But I have done it. Celtic has done it. And we did it last year by 17 points. Should I have credit for that or criticism? Over time you see who is the best team.”
Deila was asked if he feels that Celtic do not get the credit they deserve because of Rangers’ absence. He replied: “I can live with that. I can assure you that I celebrate every victory. I love winning. We can only beat the teams standing in front of us and that’s what we are trying to do.”
Asked about the online Celtic fans’ petition, Deila said: “That doesn’t make me happy but I know that people can change minds very quickly.
“It’s a small thing, only a small group of people, if you think about how many fans Celtic have.
“I know that 90 per cent of the supporters stand behind the team and that’s the most important thing.”
Celtic, meanwhile, have recalled Ryan Christie from his loan period with Inverness.
The attacking midfielder signed for the Parkhead side from Caley Thistle in August on a four-year deal but was loaned back to John Hughes’ team.
But Celtic have now decided to end the season-long loan deal early and he will join up with the champions in January.
Christie, 20, was Scotland’s Young Player of the Year last season. He is currently recovering from a knee injury.