Ronny Deila has accepted the need for significant improvement in Celtic’s performance levels, even if they go on to win a league and Scottish Cup double in the next two months.
Despite the criticism directed at the Celtic manager and his team for much of this season, they remain on course to achieve that feat.
Victory over Hearts at Parkhead today would put them seven points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the Premiership with seven games remaining, while they are also favourites for the Scottish Cup ahead of the semi-final against Rangers on 17 April.
But although Deila is confident of success, he is keen to address the kind of substandard display Celtic produced in their most recent fixture at Kilmarnock which was salvaged by Tom Rogic’s 90th-minute winner.
“Just look at the history,” said Deila. “To win two trophies is a good season, of course. But you need to see the whole picture and there are always things you can do better.
“Winning trophies and winning the league are important things, but we aim to do things much better.
“It’s hard to say how much we need to improve on how we played in our last game. It’s also about the opponent. But we want to improve, of course, because it was not a good performance at Kilmarnock.
“We are back at Celtic Park and looking forward to that. It is a very big game for us against a good Hearts team. We are in a good position in the league now, so it is no problem to motivate the players.
“I can see the trophy now, of course I can. But sometimes it is important to keep yourself within the moment of just performing and taking one game at a time.”
That said, Deila is aware of the possibility to increase the pressure on challengers Aberdeen who face Hamilton at Pittodrie tomorrow.
“That’s what we want,” he added. “We know everything is in our hands. It’s a very good feeling to have. If we win the rest of the games, we will win the league. That’s a good feeling.”
Deila is ready to hand Rogic a starting place today, despite the midfielder having travelled to and from Australia during the international break.
The 23-year-old, who scored in World Cup qualifiers against Tajikistan and Jordan, only returned to Glasgow yesterday but Deila is not concerned by any potential jet-lag.
“He is starting to get some experience of that,” said Deila. “It’s not the first time he has done it. He feels good and he is available for Saturday.
“We have him in our minds. He has performed well for his national team and did very well when he came on as a sub for us at Kilmarnock, winning the game. When he is at it, as he is just now, he is a very good football player.”