RONNY DEILA’S despair was obvious as Celtic lost 2-1 to Aberdeen last night – the first time the Dons had completed the domestic double over the Hoops in quarter-of-a-century.
It’s their best effort against the Parkhead side since season 1990/91 when they beat them three THREE times – 3-0 home and away and 1-0 at Pittodrie.
The Norwegian suffered on the touchline again as Derek McInnes’ side cut the champions’ lead at the top to three points.
And that defeat came only four days after Ross County ended 10-man Celts’ interest in the League Cup with a 3-1 win in the semi-final at Hampden.
Deila has won a Premiership title and League Cup in his year-and-half as Neil Lennon’s successor.
However, he has also seen them knocked out of four European competitions – two Champions League qualifiers and two Europa Cups – as well as the Scottish Cup and League Cup.
Deila sampled his first loss in his third game – the Champions League second qualifier against Legia Warsaw in Poland after beating Iceland’s KR Reyjkavik 5-0 on aggregate at the first hurdle.
Callum McGregor fired the Hoops ahead against the Poles, but it all went disastrously wrong after that with Fraser Forster conceding four goals and Efe Ambrose seeing red.
It got worse in the second leg, played at Murrayfield while the pitch at Parkhead was being relaid following the Commonwealth Games’ closing ceremony.
Legia, managed by Henning Berg, won 2-0 in the capital, but were found guilty by UEFA of fielding an ineligible player as a substitute in the last two minutes. Celtic were awarded the tie and promptly lost to the Slovenians of NK Maribor to blow their chances of qualifying for the money-spinning group stages.
Again, McGregor got the opening goal, but Maribor fought back to get a 1-1 draw and a late goal in Glasgow finished the job with Deila’s team dropping into the Europa League.
After wins against St Johnstone (3-0) and Dundee United (6-1), Deila had his first league defeat inflicted upon him in the Highlands when a much-changed line-up flopped 1-0 to Inverness Caley Thistle. Young Irishman Eoghan O’Connell put through his own goal.
Celtic lost only three more times as they swept their way to their fourth successive Premiership League championship.
On October 5 2014, Hamilton shocked them 1-0 for their first win at Parkhead in 76 years with Ali Crawford claiming the glory goal. The loss left the Hoops in sixth place.
Stuart Armstrong, who joined the club along with Gary Mackay-Steven on the last day of the January transfer deadline in 2015, headed in the winner for Dundee United in their 2-1 success at Tannadice on December 21.
There was another shock at home on March 4 when Danny Swanson scored the only goal of the game to hand St Johnstone a 1-0 win.
Deila watched in agony as the Hoops collapsed to Europa League defeats against Salzburg (1-3), Dinamo Zagreb (3-4) and then Inter Milan (0-1) to exit on a 3-4 aggregate last season.
This term, Malmo, after trailing 2-0 early in the first leg in Glasgow, rallied to lose by the odd goal in five and then completed the job with a 2-0 success in Sweden to dump the Hoops out of the Champions League.
Deila saw his side lead twice against Ajax and Fenerbahce in the Europa League, but fail to win with both games ending in 2-2 stalemates.
The 3-1 loss against Molde left them bottom of Group A on two points from a possible nine and it didn’t get much better when the Norwegians won 2-1 in Glasgow to complete the double over dejected Deila.
And they were condemned to finish at the foot of the table after the 2-1 defeat at home to Ajax which stretched his winless European run to 10 games. Remarkably Celtic veteran Charlie Mulgrew simply walked off the field of play after Ajax scored the winner near the end of the match. He has not been seen since in the first team squad.
The hopes of a domestic treble last term ended in controversy at the semi-final stage of the Scottish Cup where they lost 3-2 to John Hughes’ Caley Thistle after being denied a blatant penalty-kick and having keeper Craig Gordon sent off.
They have now lost three times in the Premiership this time around. Ten-man Aberdeen, with Jonny Hayes red-carded, beat the Parkhead side 2-1 at Pittodrie, Paul Quinn netting the winner four minutes from time.
The Dons completed the double in midweek to complete a hat-trick of misery for the under-pressure gaffer. Motherwell, bossed by ex-Celt Mark McGhee, won 2-1 in Glasgow in December.
Kilmarnock and Hearts have both earned goalless draws at Parkhead while there was also a 2-2 draw at Tynecastle just before the turn of the year.
The opportunity of a treble at the second time of asking ended at Hampden at the weekend and Celtic now face East Kilbride in the Scottish Cup at Airdrie’s Shyberry Stadium on Sunday. Yet very few Celtic sides have actually won trebles. Neither Neil Lennon nor Gordon Strachan achieved it and a big failing from the current Celtic management team is to have allowed the media to build up Treble talk which inevitably is deflating when a cup defeat comes along.
Whatever happened to talking about the next game only?
Aberdeen’s failings last season came down to their failure to take anything from the matches against Celtic. With 2 wins from 3 this season against the Champions, the Dons will feel that they have a real chance of toppling Ronny Deila’s increasingly fragile side.
Time to toughen up Celtic. There’s a league to be won.