RONNY DEILA acknowledges that there is mounting excitement within the Celtic camp as his side approaches the business end of the domestic season. Looking ahead to the three matches with Dundee United in the Scottish Cup quarter final this Sunday, then the League Cup Final seven days later and after that the league encounter at Celtic Park the following week – a game that has increased in significance since Celtic’s loss to St Johnstone in midweek.
Ronny reflected on all of this when he chatted about the challenges that lie ahead for Celtic in pursuit of the Treble. He said:
‘Only three teams in Celtic’s history have done this before, so if it’s so easy you have to think again.
‘It will be tough but we believe, and we just have to take every game as it comes, do everything well and look forward to the next match.
‘Everybody really wants it and I really want it and we have so many games to look forward to. That’s good because we are doing well.
The Celtic boss has a genuine respect for Dundee Utd as a well run football club, saying:
‘I really enjoyed being at Tannadice at the games. They are very polite people and the way the manager and the staff have them playing football is a very good. They develop young players and give them a chance and earn a lot of money as well. It’s a well-run club.
‘They will be very hungry to beat us in the three games coming up and it will be exciting. If we do the things we’ve been training on for the whole year well then we know we will have a good chance to win. That has brought us here and will bring us to the goals we want.
‘It’s going to be a good game. They will be up for it and we will be ready. We have three games against them in a short space of time and it will be exciting.’
Of course Celtic recently signed both Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay- Steven and both will sit out the next two cup matches. Armstrong scored the winner for Dundee United in the last match between the two sides at Tannadice back in Decemeber. An ‘honest mistake’ denied Celtic a share of the points in a 2-1 defeat. Ronny won’t be relying on his two in form signings to provide inside knowledge on Dundee Utd. Ronny explains:
‘We know what we need to know about Dundee United and I won’t put too much pressure on them. They love Dundee United and were fantastic with them so I will leave them alone.
‘We always try to improve instead of changing and that makes the players more secure as you get the understanding out on the pitch.
‘That’s the difficulty when you switch the team around during a lot matches as the relationships are too new and the play doesn’t go quick enough.’
Meanwhile Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell spoke yesterday about Celtic’s desire to find a new future out with the fetters of the Scottish game as he joined the Celtic manager at a controversial press conference called to announce the new kit sponsorship deal with New Balance reported to be worth around £29M over 5 years.
Manchester United recently announced a deal worth around £75m per year for ten years, thus perfectly illustrating the emerging gap between the leading club in both England and Scotland. Lawwell reflected on this yesterday saying:
‘There might be some negativity around in terms of the league but, with this deal, we have shown there is positivity around Scottish football.
‘The fact is we play in a country of five million and when you see how media values have gone in other regions, of course you get frustrated. We feel if we were part of that then there would be no limits.’
Lawwell confirmed that talks have taken place, including with English Football League clubs, about a cross-border competition, saying:
‘We have a responsibility to look at opportunities that would maximise our potential. Solutions will be found in the coming years.
‘There’s a recognition at UEFA that the big countries are moving away – particularly England – and the rest are being left behind. They are looking for solutions.’
CQN Magazine understands that one idea that has received particular focus is for a joint League Cup between clubs from both England and Scotland and that this idea has been regarded positively in many boardrooms in England where the need for a re-vamped League Cup has been apparent for a number of years.