HAVING led Celtic to Three in a Row Neil Lennon decided he’d had enough for now and probably fancied a move to England. While he was busy trying to sort that out, Peter Lawwell was on the look out for a replacement. Roy Keane was a strong contender with the club’s largest shareholder Dermot Desmond apparently pushing for the former Manchester Utd captain to get the job.
Steve Clarke came close too but it was Norwegian coach Ronny Deila who impressed the Celtic Chief Executive so much when he was interviewed for the Assistant Manager’s job. Deila rather unfortunately as things turned out, never got that Assistant Manager’s job because he’d have been excellent at it. Instead Lawwell took a rather large gamble, side-stepped Keane and appointed Deila as Celtic manager.
This video below, which has English sub-titles provides a perfect insight into the coaching philosophy that got Ronny the Celtic job.
Things got off to a poor start with Deila failing to get Celtic to the Champions League despite Legia Warsaw’s administrative incompetence providing Ronny with the biggest get out of jail free card imaginable. The gift was squandered after drawing away to Maribor only to somehow lose the home tie 1-0, so it was the Europa League for Ronny Deila’s Celtic where the Group Stages were negotiated and that set up a knock-out tie at the start of February 2015 against Inter Milan.
The first leg ended 3-3 at Celtic Park but when Virgil van Dijk was rather harshly sent off in the San Siro Celtic’s fate seemed sealed. The game ended 1-0 to Inter but it should be noted that this stage in the Europa League was as far as Ronny’s successor Brendan Rodgers managed in three seasons in charge.
With European football out of the way, all the talk was of the Norwegian achieving a treble in his first season as Celtic manager. A few weeks before Inter Milan played at Celtic Park in the Europa League first leg, Deila had taken his team to Hampden for the semi-final of the League Cup and the first ever meeting with the new club, founded by Charles Green.
The game was over as a contest after a couple of early Celtic goals from Griffiths and Commons and the Scottish Champions played out the rest of the game in second gear without the new club managing even one shot on goal. So Ronny was going to the League Cup Final to play Dundee Utd for the chance to lift his first trophy as Celtic manager.
The League Cup was won convincingly (2-0) on 15 March 2015 – the first time Celtic had won it in six years- and Dundee Utd then lost 4-0 to Celtic in the Scottish Cup and then 3-0 at home in the league. Ronny had raided Tannaidce to sign Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong and the Arabs never seemed to recover from those three losses. They are still trying to do so to this day.
The league was looking good so much of the talk centered around the Scottish Cup as this looked to be the competition were the Treble could be won or lost. In the semi-final against Inverness Caley Thistle Celtic were a goal up after a wonderful effort from Virgil van Dijk. And it looked all over for the Highlanders when their central defender Meekings handled on the goal-line to prevent Leigh Griffiths doubling the lead.
Steven McLean and his various assistants – he even had one behind the goal – all appeared to miss the easiest penalty call of the season and with it the straight red card. It was a shocking decision with Inverness eventually winning 3-2 in extra time against ten man Celtic.
The league was won on Saturday 2 May, Celtic had thrashed Dundee 5-0 in the Friday Night Match and played really well. When Aberdeen failed to beat Dundee Utd at Tannadice the next day, Ronny Deila had delivered 4 in a row, on the way to the Ten, for Celtic.
The next game was at Pittodrie on this day – 10 May – and Celtic picked up all three points thanks to a great counter attacking goal which was scored by Scott Brown to give the Champions a 1-0 win.
The trophy day gave Celtic a chance to get some kick of revenge on Inverness, who did give Celtic a Guard of Honour and there’s a current Celtic Star in there looking rather sheepish…
We’ve been looking back this week at the league wins on the way to ten in a Row. Neil Lennon won the first three and you can read our features on each of these title wins below and we’ll continue this feature to take us up to 8IAR over the coming days on The Celtic Star…