Ronny Deila vents anger at poor SPFL pitches

RONNY Deila last night tempered his satisfaction at Celtic stretching their lead at the top of the Premiership with an expression of dismay at the standard of playing surfaces which he believes are hindering the development of Scottish football.

Celtic winger James Forrest celebrates after putting his side 1-0 up against St Mirren. Picture: SNS

Celtic moved eight points clear of Aberdeen in the title race with a 2-0 win over bottom of the table St Mirren in Paisley, earned with second-half goals from James Forrest and Stefan Johansen.

But Deila appeared pre-occupied afterwards with the condition of the St Mirren Park pitch. He insists Scottish football should consider more artificial playing surfaces and possibly a switch to summer football, as he was accustomed to in his Norwegian homeland.

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“The pitch tonight was better than some of the others we have played on this season,” said Deila. “But the pitches in Scotland are terrible. That’s just how it is, I have to be honest about it.

Celtic winger James Forrest celebrates after putting his side 1-0 up against St Mirren. Picture: SNS

“If you want to develop players and get passing football into your team, it’s difficult when the ball is bouncing all the time.

“It’s much easier for the other teams to just sit behind the ball and try to break down our play. But to win, you have to deal with that as well.

“It’s much better to play on an artificial surface than to play on this. If we are going to develop good young players in Scotland, you need to have a good surface to play and train on. If not, you just get fighters. If you want skills and technique, you have to play on better surfaces. They are much better in Norway where 60 per cent of our pitches are artificial and the grass pitches are better as well because they don’t train there and there aren’t other teams playing on them.

‘Also, we play in the summer in Norway. That’s the biggest thing. I think Celtic Park is a good pitch and nothing is better than a good grass pitch. But if it’s going to be like this, then it’s better to play on artificial.

“Summer football is something to think about because we don’t play in the best month. It’s something that can may be make Scottish football better.”

The most heartening aspect of Celtic’s victory last night for Deila was the contribution of Forrest who has been plagued by injuries over the past couple of seasons.

“We have been very patient with James,” said Deila. “Now I think we see what we can get out of him. He was very sharp tonight. He had a tough fight against the full-back but he didn’t give up. He kept on going and in the end won the game for us. He is a player who is very important for us. He is a top player, one of our best. We are talking about European quality.

“It was a tough game tonight, St Mirren were well organised and played very deep. They fought really hard and it was difficult to break them down.

“We had to be patient. We had some chances in the first half but didn’t get the goals. In the second half, we got bigger spaces and our first goal was how I want us to score – opposite movements and triangles. It was a very good goal. That opened the game up. I don’t think St Mirren had a chance in the game, so a clean sheet and a victory is very good for us.”

Deila, meanwhile, made light of substitute Leigh Griffiths being caught by TV cameras eating a Tunnock’s teacake while sitting on the banch.

“I think it was a carbo biscuit,” smiled Deila. “But we will check his weight tomorrow!”