Could someone remind me the last time we heard rumours that Ronny Deila had players rebelling against him? I heard it often, and put it to the club, but was told the players had bought-into the changes, then underway and largely unproductive. I think we got our answer after the full-time whistle yesterday. This is a group of players and manager with a common purpose.
Celtic are now top of the league, a point away from qualifying from the Europa League knock-out stages, and are beginning to look like a team, but the results are largely secondary to the transformation. Even if Virgil’s 90th minute winner hadn’t arrived at Pittodrie, progress is evident. The fragility and lack of cohesion which marked so many of our performances until early last month has gone.
Success has many fathers so it’s difficult to know exactly what’s behind the improvement. Scott Brown’s return from injury helped enormously, as did the return of Mikael Lustig and Adam Matthews (although I thought Adam had a torrid time with Niall McGinn yesterday).
The blossoming of Stefan Johansen has to be the most striking element. He has without doubt been the most improved player this season and an early contender for end of season awards. By any measure, he had no right to score his goal yesterday.
The return of James Forrest, who yesterday played his fourth game in eight months, will give the squad an extra boost before the final two Europa League group games. If he has fully recuperated from the problems which blighted him throughout this year, he’ll give fresh impetus to the pacey product Ronny is trying to hone.
You can get copies of Caesar & the Assassin, Billy McNeill and Davie Hay’s accounts of managing Celtic from Jock Stein’s departure until the appointment of Liam Brady, signed by both Billy and Davie here.[calameo code=0003901718cdc4362fa2e? lang=en page=4 hidelinks=1 width=100% height=500]