CELTIC manager Ronny Deila accused his players of lacking commitment last night as they suffered a stunning 4-1 defeat by Legia Warsaw in Poland which leaves their Champions League qualifying hopes hanging by a thread.
But the Norwegian also admitted personal culpability for the dismal performance, stating he had failed to make his team understand the tactics he wished them to follow in the first leg of the third qualifying round tie.
After Callum McGregor opened the scoring for Celtic in the eighth minute, the evening went downhill for Deila as Miroslav Radovic scored twice and Efe Ambrose was sent off before half-time. In the second half, Legia failed to convert two penalty kicks but added further late goals through Michal Zyro and Jakub Kosecki.
It leaves the Scottish champions requiring a turnaround of huge proportions when they face Legia at Murrayfield in the second leg next Wednesday.
“We started well and got the first goal but from there we gave up pressure and conceded easy goals,” said Deila. “We lost our heads and lost the ball in areas of the pitch which caused us problems. We didn’t stay together in the back four and they had easy chances. The red card made it a totally different game in the second half.
“Again we started okay in the second half, but we were not together as a team, some of the players pressing high up the pitch and others staying back.
“It was a very poor performance and worst of all for me was the commitment and energy of the team. We need much more. That’s what concerns me most.
“It was not the plan to still try and go forward with ten men at 2-1 down, but we started to make stupid mistakes. That’s my responsibility. I have to be much clearer in telling the players how I want them to perform as a team, going forward and defensively.
“We have to learn from this quickly. We need to have a whole different attitude and discipline in our play.”
Despite the heavy defeat, Deila is optimistic Celtic can turn the tie around next week. If they are eliminated, they will drop into the play-off round of the Europa League but Deila’s sights are still firmly fixed on the lucrative and far more prestigious Champions League.
“Of course it was the worst possible result for me,” he said. “But we have one away goal and it is possible to win 3-0 at home. We will try everything we can to do it. We let everyone down tonight and that’s my responsibility. We still have a chance to go through. With the Celtic supporters behind us at Murrayfield, as I know they will be, we will try everything to win the tie.”
Ambrose will miss the second leg through suspension as a result of his straight red card for denying Michal Kucharczyk a clear goalscoring opportunity. But Deila refused to single out the Nigerian defender, who had been poor even before his dismissal, for criticism.
“It was not only about Efe, it was a consequence of other mistakes in the team,” said Deila. “We lost the ball too much in the middle. When we lost the ball, we were completely open and Efe was caught out by a counter attack.”