DEFIANT Ronny Deila is remaining calm while insisting Celtic are in a great position to win their fifth successive Premier League title – despite the scoreless stalemate against Dundee at Dens Park.
The champions were determined to stretch their lead over Aberdeen at the top to seven points, but the draw means they are five clear with six games to play.Deila’s men, who have surrendered six points at Pittodrie in a topsy-turvy campaign, have still take on the Dons in Glasgow and the Norwegian is refusing to panic on the crucial league and Cup run-in.
He said: “We’re still in a good position. We have to make ourselves ready for Motherwell on Saturday and work really hard to get the three points there.”It’s always disappointing to lose points, but there are a lot of games left and we just have to keep on going. Of course, we have the key in our hands. Everything is up to ourselves.”
Leigh Griffiths has claimed 35 goals this term, but, worryingly, his touch was out at Dens Park where he fired a blank for the third successive game.
Deila, though, has every faith in the frontman and declared: “We know he can score goals and he will do that in the rest of the season, I’m sure of that.”The Hoops gaffer also admitted he understood the frustration of the fans with his side’s inability to shake off Aberdeen at the business end of the campaign.
He said: “It’s a little bit disappointing and we should have created more clear-cut chances. The last pass and the effectiveness when we first had the ball was not good enough.
“Defensively, we played quite well. They had a couple of chances, but we had a good goalkeeper in Craig Gordon.”We maybe could have got the ball to Patrick Roberts more, but, having said that, there was one player marking him all the time. We should have exploited the space he was creating for us, though.”
Referring to the boos from the traveling support directed at the management team as they made their way from the touchline to the dressing rooms at the corner of Dens Park, Deila remarked;
“Football is about emotions and, when you don’t get the victory, the fans get irritated and sad – that’s something I understand.”
As soon as Ronny and his assistants were up the tunnel the magnificent Celtic support joined together in a rousing chorus of ‘ We Love You Celtic’ as the players applauded the supporters for their backing.Erik Sviatchenko, who was replaced by Charlie Mulgrew after limping off midway through the second-half, will have a thigh scan this afternoon. Deila, no doubt, will be hoping he comes through unscathed with the trip to Motherwell on Saturday coming up fast. Sviatchenko’s blushes were saved in the first half when his error led to Dundee’s best chance of the game which was well saved by Craig Gordon, who seems to be back to last season’s best form.
Former Parkhead midfielder Paul Hartley, who managed to set up his Dundee team to block out the Hoops for the second consecutive game, said: “I thought it was an excellent team performance. We limited Celtic to a few chances and created a few ourselves.
“Our organisation, work-rate and team spirit was tremendous. The whole team were excellent from start to finish.”
The former Celts in the Dundee team certainly caught the eye and Hartley himself is an impressive manager, turning a run of heavy defeats against the Champions into two stalemates.
His side scored 5 at home to Ross County last weekend but instead of adopting an offensive strategy he sat in, copying the recent tactics at Celtic Park and once again Celtic had no answers.
A big worry for the Celtic support is the loss of form from Leigh Griffiths, who had probably his poorest match in what has been a tremendous season for the striker.
With no other striker worthy of a start for Celtic in the entire first team squad, Griffiths needs a return to his goalscoring ways for Saturday lunchtime in Lanarkshire.
Certainly Celtic cannot rely on the form and fitness of Leigh Griffiths as the ONLY striker of note at the club. Neither Richards or Cole look like ever contributing to Celtic and questions have to be asked about the logic in signing these two pretty awful players. Richards, on last night’s performance, would struggle to get picked for the CQN Fives.
Watch last night’s ‘highlights’ here: http://bbc.in/239Qspa