‘Little bit harsh’ to say Ronny Deila’s reign was a failure

Mikael Lustig: 'Blame team'. Picture: SNS
Mikael Lustig: 'Blame team'. Picture: SNS
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Mikael Lustig insists it would be harsh to describe Ronny Deila’s Celtic reign as a failure.

The departing Norwegian’s detractors point out his three failed attempts to qualify for the Champions League plus last month’s defeat by 
Rangers in the Scottish Cup.

But right-back Lustig reckons a more considered view should be taken. The Swede said: “Hopefully the manager gets a good reception on Sunday. He’s been here for two years now and obviously we wanted something more but he has brought titles to the club and I think he’s going to get a good send-off.

“Of course Celtic always want to be in the Champions League but at the same time he is not to blame. The players are the ones out there. We did not play as well as was needed.

“When we went out of the Champions League, we should have been the better team but we were not at that standard.”

“Everyone knows we want to win so much at this club but you can think it is a little bit harsh (to say Deila’s reign was a failure).”

Deila acknowledged he has made mistakes since switching from Stromsgodset in the summer of 2014 and certainly one of the main contributing factors to his exit was his failure to get to grips with Celtic’s unwieldy squad.

The Hoops currently have 22 midfielders on their books and Lustig confessed that did not help the morale of those left on the sidelines for weeks on end.

“There is a lot of players in the same positions and that’s maybe one of the weaknesses that we have,” he said.

“We don’t have 11 to 15 players who are always in the first team - there have been a lot of changes between games.

“Of course everyone wants to play but when you try to keep everyone satisfied it ends up them maybe starting one game but then the next they are not in the squad. Or from not being in the squad one week, you start the next game. As a player you want to know if you’re a first-team player or if your role is to come on for the last 20 minutes.

“So maybe there has been a little bit too much changing about.

“We will see what the new manager wants to do with the club. Maybe some will have to go, maybe he will bring in some new players as well.”

Those decisions will have to wait until Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell finally picks a man to replace Deila.

As for now, Lustig just wants to ensure Deila goes out on a high by seeing off Motherwell this weekend, saying: “We want to have a good win for the manager and make sure the last game is memorable.” Motherwell manager Mark McGhee insists the club are “bending over backwards” to extend the stays of their experienced out-of-contract players, Stephen McManus, Keith Lasley and Steven Hammell, who have been told the club cannot afford to pay the same deals. McGhee said: “We are doing everything we can to make it as improved as we can to persuade them to stay.

“However, there is a finite amount that we now kind of know. We don’t have a generous benefactor. Those days have gone here.”