Ronny Deila hails Celtic side’s growth as team

CELTIC will celebrate their Scottish Premiership title success on Sunday but manager Ronny Deila’s excitement will be focused on their future potential rather than the achievements of the past 10 months.

Celtic manager Ronny Deila is all smiles at training. Picture: SNS
Celtic manager Ronny Deila is all smiles at training. Picture: SNS

The Hoops will receive the trophy for a fourth consecutive season following the Parkhead clash with Inverness.

Deila’s thoughts will quickly turn to preparations for the Champions League qualifying task in mid-July after his side failed in last season’s attempt during his first weeks in the job.

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And the progress since those difficult early days of the Norwegian’s reign has been the one thing that has pleased Deila the most.

“It’s so hard to say what the one thing is,” he said. “We have had many highlights, the Inter Milan game, the Rangers game, winning the league.

“But most of all... just the progress. You can see the team is going the right way all the time. That gives me a good feeling. To see the team is growing, individually and as a unit, that’s the best feeling I can get.

“Also now that we are sitting in a good foundation for what’s coming up in front of us, that people are interested and excited about what’s happening.”

Deila led Stromsgodset to the Norwegian title in 2013 and he will savour the trophy landed in his first year in Scotland.

“I have looked forward to it for a long, long time for many reasons,” the 39-year-old said.

“One, we have achieved our goal of winning the league; two, we are going to celebrate that with our fans and I know it’s a special day at Celtic Park; and three, we have a holiday afterwards.

“We always want to perform and hate to lose and show a bad side. We want to keep on winning games and people are up for it.”

Deila’s fellow Norwegian, Stefan Johansen, also tasted title success at Stromsgodset before arriving in Glasgow in January 2014, but he admits this year’s title party will be more meaningful than his first one in Scotland.

The midfielder said: “I came in January last year and got in the team pretty quickly but we were already many points ahead, and it was kind of all over then.

“This season I have been here from day one and it was a tough start for us as well, so it feels a little bit more special this season.

“It’s going to be a good day. Inverness beat us in the cup and now we have the chance to bounce back from that and lift the trophy afterwards. That’s what football is all about, lifting trophies.”

Meanwhile, Deila claimed it was “very positive” that Nir Bitton had been linked with Sunderland but insisted the Israeli midfielder was going to stay and help Celtic get into the Champions League.

And he dismissed claims that out-of-favour striker Anthony Stokes would be sold amid reported interest from both Leeds and Colorado Rapids.

“That’s not true,” Deila said. “We want to keep players and build up with new players. Stokesy has played a lot this season. He hasn’t played so much lately for different reasons but he is a talented boy and we speak a lot together.

“He is the same as everyone else, if they show improvement and the desire to get better and perform, then they have a big future at the club. He is the same as everyone else and right now he is a player we want to keep.”