Ronny Deila’s defensive dealings a boost to Celtic European targets
Celtic boss Ronny Deila enjoyed a successful maiden campaign at Parkhead, securing both the Scottish Premiership and League Cup titles, but the highly-driven Norwegian coach has continued to strengthen his defence ahead of another demanding season.
Former Stromsgodset boss Deila knows exactly what challenges face him and his Bhoys squad next term, with the 39-year-old aiming to make a genuine impact in Europe, as the Hoops soon to take on Icelandic outfit UMF Stjarnan in their second Champions League qualifying round clash.
The Glasgow giants should come through their European tie with ease, and are 500/1 with Coral to somehow go all the way in the competition next season, but new defensive acquisitions have made their attempts to enjoy a successful run in the Champions League a lot more promising.
Deila’s latest delve into the summer transfer market saw the arrival of Swiss full back Saidy Janko from Manchester United, with the 19-year-old agreeing a four-year deal.
The talented defender was hailed as a big prospect at Old Trafford after being signed by former Red Devils boss David Moyes two years ago, but failed to make a breakthrough and was loaned out to Bolton, where he featured under previous Celtic boss Neil Lennon.
However, Deila has challenged the new signing to force his way into Celtic’s Champions League plans and claimed the wide operator can make a big impact on the team.
“Saidy is a young player we want to develop. He’s a talented full-back. Saidy has to show himself in training like everyone else but the road to the first team is there if he shows himself to be the best,” stated Deila.
The new Parkhead arrival, who began his youth career at FC Zurich in his homeland of Switzerland as a 14-year-old, declared his desire to embrace the enthralling Champions League nights in Glasgow.
“I’m looking forward to teaming up with my new team-mates and to the new challenge. Obviously Celtic are a huge club and I just want to get playing.” stated the former Red Devils defender.
“Hopefully I’ll get as many games and as many trophies with the club as possible. I want to play in the Champions League and play international football, because with Celtic that is possible.”
Janko follows in the footsteps of former Manchester City centre back Dedryck Boyata, who recently switched allegiances from the Etihad to Celtic Park, and has showed early promise of a dominant partnership with Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk.
Boyata revealed that it’s easy for him to fit in at Celtic because the team’s style of play suits him perfectly, having recently strolled through his debut game in a friendly against Dutch side Den Bosch at St Mirren Park.
“I think I can deal with it. I don’t think it will be difficult. I like the way we play, so that makes it easier,” claimed Boyata.
“My partnership with Virgil is good. We have still to play a lot of games, but the first match went well. We will analyse the game to see what we can do better.”
Such early promise will be warmly welcomed by Deila, who is hoping to retain the services of sought-after centre back Van Dijk, with the impressive Bhoys bruiser having shot to prominence with his supreme displays last season.
With Janko ready to fight for his place at right back, both Boyata and Van Dijk looking positive in the rear guard and Emilio Izaguirre a constant figure on the left flank, Deila possesses a now potent looking defence in front of superb Scotland stopper Craig Gordon.
A strong European run is clearly in Deila’s thinking, as he looks to cement himself as a true classy Celtic coach, and he knows only emulating the likes of Martin O’Neill and Gordon Strachan’s previous European efforts will see his reputation grow.
Strachan guided his Celtic side into the Champions League last 16 by beating AC Milan, Benfica and Shakhtar Donetsk in 2008, while O’Neill oversaw his Bhoys reach their first European final since 1970 as they were beaten by Jose Mourinho’s Porto in the 2003 UEFA Cup.
With a rich history of performing well on in Europe’s elite club competition, Deila will want to prove himself as a coach and guide the Hoops on a successful Champions League run, while also maintaining their domestic dominance (odds-on 1/25 to retain title).