On Sunday 30th July 2000, the Martin O’Neil era had its first competitive fixture. The team that day was;
We all know that Martin had a well funded (in Scottish terms) remit to create a winning side, and the transformation can be seen on the Celtic wide which took to the field at Tannadice on Boxing Day that same season;
So far there has been minimal signs of a Deila revolution and the lack of signings has started some murmurings on social media about the risky strategy of funding player purchases once Champions League qualification has been achieved.
The club patently has brought in Deila with a specific remit on the style of football and player development. Deila has talked about a high tempo pressing game where procession of the ball is the key. He has also stated that he doesn’t want to confuse the current squad too much with too many changes until CL qualification is complete, yet already we could see some changes in the game at Murrayfield. Also from comments, player selection and our knowledge of the existing squad we can already get an indication of those players who will fit and play a big role and those who won’t and will be marginalized or moved on. It is also clear that Deila has been given the remit to develop more of our homegrown talent in the same way we have been hoping to bring in “projects” from elsewhere.
Celtic is currently in our now annual catch 22 where the quality of player who would make an appreciable difference to the squad won’t come without Champions League football and we will only have guaranteed Champions League football a couple out from the end of the transfer window. Consequently will no doubt Deila will be expected to achieve this goal largely with the existing squad.
Deila’s target to change the style using the existing tools is a challenging one. As the two teams from the start of the O’Neil era above illustrate transformations are usually achieved in football with a turnover of talent. Last season Celtic entered the Champions League without the necessary striking threat following the departure of Hooper. The loss of Samaras (our specialist at this level) and the addition of Griffiths (similar quality to Anthony Stokes) means that Ronnie has an even weaker selection pool in this section of the team than Lennon did last term.
From everything I have read I am hopeful Ronnie Deila will be a success at Celtic and his philosophy on football appears to offer an exciting attacking brand of football where our development players will be given every opportunity to become Celtic legends. I expect to see a similar transformation in the team on the park as we saw under Martin O’Neil and Gordon Strachan before, but Deila needs to be given assistance to achieve this change. Samaras has gone and it doesn’t appear to me that either Griffiths or Stokes fit with the comments of Deila or Collins on our footballing strategy. Perhaps we may see a Bobby Pettaesque transformation from Pukki (a technically superior player to the two mentioned earlier) but fingers crossed is never the best corporate strategy.