I wrote an article on December 21st titled ‘RONNY DEILA – NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO REMAIN CELTIC MANAGER’ https://etims.net/?p=8311 as the name suggests I’d reached the point where it was obvious to me Ronny had run out of ideas. Fast forward seven weeks and it’s now painful listening to Ronny as he makes one excuse after another following yet another poor performance.
Recent thumping defeats to Ross County and Aberdeen (don’t let the score-lines fool you) simply reinforced my belief the ‘Ronny experiment’ had failed and it was time for the amiable Norwegian to be shown the door as there’s now a very real chance Celtic, with our vast financial and squad advantages over the rest of Scottish football, will fail to win the SPFL this season. Just let that sink in for a minute…
We have financial resources the rest of our domestic opponents can only dream of. While we spent £1.5m during the January transfer window (and a considerable amount on wages) our nearest challengers Aberdeen, a team full of free agents and minimal transfer fee purchases, brought in a loan signing from MK Dons. While losing arguably their best player in goalkeeper Danny Ward who returned to Liverpool. That Dons team, not one of whom I’d consider good enough to play for Celtic, completely out-thought and out-fought Celtic at Pittodrie last week and are now level on points with us, albeit Celtic have a game in hand.
It echoed a similar performance against Ross County at Hampden the previous weekend. Sure Celtic played with ten players for 77 minutes after Ambrose was red-carded but a Celtic team packed full of internationals created next to nothing against an opponent on a fraction of our budget. There was little in the way of shape or progressive ideas to adapt to such a situation. The team look directionless and I attribute most of this to Ronny.
A football team is said to mirror its manager. Martin O’Neill, Gordon Strachan and to a large degree Neil Lennon showed desire and passion on the touchline and left their players in no doubt what was expected of them. Like managers of all clubs they had set-backs and lost to teams they shouldn’t have but after eighteen months in the role it was rare for their teams to continually roll over and look so lacklustre against inferior opposition. Watching Ronny just now is like watching John Barnes and Tony Mowbray when they managed Celtic. Little fight in the team and ongoing plethora of excuses telling everyone it will soon be alright. It won’t be.
I’m a bit older in the tooth and can recollect telling folk to give John Barnes more time during my distant youth. He’s just in the door, he’s got Kenny’s backing, he’s lost Henrik (I’ll give him that one!) and a bit more faith in him and it will turn…trust me. The reality was his dressing room was split and players didn’t believe in his 4-2-2-2 system as it left us too open and easy to exploit. Ring any bells?
Under Tony Mowbray there was once more this soft underbelly and through my Barnes experience it was clear pretty early in his domestic campaign that not all was good. He put his faith in Marc Antoine-Fortune, a non-goalscoring forward, and his walls came crumbling down following a 4-0 gubbing away to St Mirren.
In both cases above they were replaced with managers who would quickly put their stamp on many of the same players and have them scrapping for every ball for fear of a verbal assault from the managers. Barnes went Dalglish, the man responsible for bringing him in, held the fort until the arrival of the magnificent O’Neill who completely galvanised Celtic with an energy and belief that was infectious. There were many doubters in the support due to MON’s workmanlike team at Leicester and a fear he’d play a similar style at Celtic. What little did we know!
After Mowbray, Lennon was asked to hold the fort with Mowbray’s players until the end of the season before being offered the job as manager. It took him a season to build his own team but you could see the fruits of it and it wasn’t long until he had many players who looked useless under Mowbray fighting or working as if their lives depended on it.
Now under Ronny it is history repeating itself. There’s no passion, little fight, zero hunger, no leadership, minimal direction and lame excuses after an increasing number of pitiful performances. Ronny has some very good players at his disposal and is getting nowhere near the best from them for a variety of reasons. His tactics, team shape, instructions and complete lack of options when a game isn’t going to plan.
A new manager, be it temporary until the end of the season, or ideally permanent would get far more from the current squad which pishes all over the rest of Scotland in quality terms. We need a manager who can focus on the basic art of defending. Know your job and deal with corners and set pieces. Think back to this season, scrap that, think back just to Pittodrie and a fear the Dons would score with every delivery into our penalty area. It’s astonishing that after telling the supporters he is working on this that we have shown no improvement and if anything are getting worse. A half decent manager would have this sorted in next to no time at all and with that most of our defensive problems would evaporate. Organisation and solidity can be easily rectified at this level and with the right manager (No, not John Collins as he must go when Ronny departs) would be sorted in next to no time at all.
This two centre backs sitting on their own with little in the way of protection would also be addressed quickly. It’s basic, basic stuff.
My final umbrage with Ronny is the number of midfielders he’s bought after saying last summer he wanted to trim the squad. We now have Bitton, Mulgrew, Johansen, Brown, McGregor, Allan, Christie, Armstrong, Forrest, Rogic, Commons, Roberts, Mackay-Stevens and arguably Kazim-Richards fighting over five positions. 14 players fighting over 5 positions. This is bordering on lunacy and goes against everything he said last year.
There’s no rhyme, no reason to what he does and can only be adding to confusion among the players, who I have no doubt many of whom are as perplexed as an ever increasing number of fans.
An example of that was yesterday’s Scottish Cup game away to East Kilbride from the lowland league. East Kilbride are a non-league amateur team and this was an ideal opportunity to start players he’s put faith in by purchasing in the shape of Scott Allan and Ryan Christie. Instead he brings back Charlie Mulgrew to sit in against East Kilbride, a team in the fifth tier of Scottish football, who were playing away from home at a neutral ground. Ronny’s mindset was laid bare for all to see after the match when commented “I think it would have been very hard had we lost today so it was a crucial victory”.
Very hard had we lost today?
Like Barnes and Mowbray before him, Ronny’s time is up. If the Celtic board don’t act quickly enough to rectify their mistake then their culpability increases.
The Ronny experiment has failed. Time for action from the Celtic board as finishing second is not an option.
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