RONNY DEILA would love nothing more than experiencing his first Old Firm derby on the way to cup glory with Celtic this season.
The Norwegian has had a troubled start to his tenure as Hoops manager since taking over from Neil Lennon in the summer, but is determined to capture the first trophy available - the League Cup, where his side face Hearts in the third round at Parkhead on Wednesday night.
With traditional rivals Rangers in the Championship and making their way back through the leagues following their descent into liquidation, Deila’s only hope of facing Gers boss Ally McCoist this season comes in the cup competitions, the possibility of which will increase if his team get past the Tynecastle men and Rangers win at Falkirk on Tuesday night.
The Celtic boss said: “We would love to play Rangers. Everybody is waiting for an Old Firm game and that’s what we want.
“It is a big game. I haven’t seen so much of Rangers so we will see if the game does come.
“The League Cup is very important, it is the first trophy we can win and we are going to go for it.
“Cup finals are unbelievable and that is why I am here, to win trophies and to develop the team in the right way.
“That is why I am looking forward to the game on Wednesday. I will play my best team.”
In talking about his “best team” the former Stromsgodset boss was alluding to the criticism which followed the 1-1 home draw with Motherwell in the Premiership at Parkhead on Sunday.
Deila made six changes to his side but had to bring skipper Scott Brown and Kris Commons off the bench for the start of the second half after the champions went in at the interval trailing to a John Sutton goal.
Brown won a penalty which Commons converted for a share of the spoils, but there was general disgruntlement among the home supporters at the loss of another two points which left Celtic five behind leaders Dundee United, albeit with a game in hand.
Deila refuted the suggestion that a cup tie against in-form Hearts, flying high at the top of the Championship and on the back of a 5-1 win over Cowdenbeath at the weekend, was exactly what he did not need as he searches for consistency after “too many ups and downs” this season.
He said: “It is not the worst game (we could have had), it is a fantastic game.
“We are playing a good team and we can bounce back after a bad performance, especially in the first half.
“I watched Hearts against Hibs on television and we had people watching them on Saturday.
“I think we know what we are going to meet.”
Deila admitted there has been interest in out-of-favour striker Leigh Griffiths, who has been linked with an emergency loan move to boyhood heroes Hibernian, where he had a successful loan period before he moved from Wolves to Parkhead.
The Parkhead boss said: “We haven’t agreed on anything. But we will see what happens. We will see how it goes.”