Ronny Deila believes that Aberdeen could mount an even stronger Premiership title challenge next season and has warned Celtic not to take their current domestic supremacy for granted.
Outgoing Celtic manager Deila will see his team formally clinch the club’s fifth consecutive title tomorrow if they take at least a point from their home game against the Dons, who have again been their nearest rivals this season.
Although Rangers will be back in the top flight next season after a four-year absence, Deila feels Aberdeen are still best equipped to pose a threat to Celtic’s bid to take another step towards their openly stated ambition of winning a record ten successive titles.
The Norwegian, who will step down this month, cited both his own achievement of leading unfashionable Stromsgodset to become champions in his homeland in 2013 and Leicester’s English Premier League triumph this year as examples of how the established order can be upset.
Deila insists Aberdeen could eventually be rewarded for their progress in recent years if they hold on to manager Derek McInnes and build on the environment he has created at Pittodrie, while he also expects Hearts to improve.
“Everything is possible in football,” said Deila. “Of course money is important, you can buy yourself things easier, but when you get the right culture at your club, then everything is possible and you have consistency over time.
“Aberdeen have done that very well with their manager, Hearts are starting to get some consistency and they will get better. Celtic have a lot of consistency, too, but it’s not just about going out and expecting to win as the biggest club. Leicester have shown that in England this year.
“I won with a small club in Norway. It is possible. But it took us six years to do it at Stromsgodset. You learn every year. If you keep consistency with your coach and players, then everything is possible.
“I think it’s going to be close next season. Aberdeen, if they can keep their consistency, will be even better. If they can get more experience and maybe get another couple of players as well. They are doing positive things.
“Again, Rangers is coming up and maybe another club like Hibs. Those are big clubs coming up and I think that is positive for the Scottish league because then maybe it’s going to be closer and people will beat each other.”