JOHN HARTSON admits Ronny Deila is beginning to make him eat his words.

The former Celtic fans’ favourite has criticised the previously-unknown Norwegian since he replaced Neil Lennon as Hoops boss in the summer.

Indeed many Celtic supporters have noted with some irritation that Hartson was more critical of Ronny Deila ahead of his side’s league cup semi final victory at the weekend that he was towards Neil Lennon after his former team’s Celtic side lost in the same competition at home to Morton last season.

Now the Welsh legend has now applauded the ex-Stromsgodset gaffer as he settles into the Parkhead dug-out.

Hartson said: “Celtic are top of the league, they’re in the League Cup Final, they play a Scottish Cup-tie at Dundee on Saturday and they’ve got two massive European games coming up.

“The likes of myself and one or two others in the media keep giving Ronny Deila stick.

“But the only way he can answer us back is by winning and he’s certainly doing that.

“So, I feel I’ve got a bit of egg on my face at the minute.”

Hartson, who spent five years at the club after being signed by Martin O’Neill for £6million from Coventry City in August 2001, is looking forward to Deila attempting to get his hands on his first silverware when the Glasgow giants take on Dundee United in the League Cup Final on March 15.

He said: “The clubs have already met twice this season, of course.

“Celtic won heavily at Parkhead at the start of the campaign and then lost just before Christmas at their place.

“Jackie McNamara was my room-mate in my years at Celtic and it will be great for him to come up against his old team.

“He was such a fantastic player for the club. I’m sure it will be a day he will enjoy – but only if United win, of course.”

Hartson, who scored six goals in 32 Euro outings including the memorable killer second against Liverpool during the march to Seville in 2003, also believes it would be foolish to write off Deila’s side in the Europa League.

The 39-year-old added: “The games against Inter Milan will be so important for Celtic.

“It’s a great place to be – the European nights under the lights.

“It’s wonderful opposition, too. Celtic playing the club they beat to win the European Cup in 1967.

“There’s history there which will add a bit of spice to the game.

“They will be massive occasions, both home and away, two matches in the middle of this month.

“Celtic will start the ties as underdogs, but, again, we’ve seen them over the years beat big-name opponents at Celtic Park.

“The east end of Glasgow is a really daunting place for opposing teams to come and play.

“And, naturally, I am happy no-one left the club in the transfer window.

“Virgil Van Dijk is a class act and you only had to look at him at Hampden on Sunday when he didn’t get out of second gear.

“Kris Commons, too, is such a valuable player to them team.

“So, they are in four competitions and have got it all to play for.”

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