Ronny Deila is happy Celtic players can focus on football
CELTIC boss Ronny Deila claims clarity regarding his future lay behind the convincing victory over Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday.
The Norwegian will leave at the end of the season and is virtually certain to take with him a second successive Ladbrokes Premiership title following the 3-1 win which came courtesy of goals from Colin Kazim-Richards, Patrick Roberts and Leigh Griffiths. The Hoops moved nine points ahead of second-placed Aberdeen with three games remaining, but the goal difference, which stands at 35 in the Parkhead club's favour, makes them surely uncatchable.
Deila is glad the players are now able to concentrate solely on their football: "There was so much speculation around my position and, when you get negativity all around you, it affects the performances," he said
"In the end, the process around me was affecting the players and I could see it. At Hearts, you saw a team focused on football and, now, the club can go forward from here and have a good foundation to have a very good next season as well.
"You always want to put in a good performance every week, but football is not like that when you play 60 games every season. Yesterday, we won by two goals in a very difficult stadium and I think it was a good performance, especially in the first-half, which was very solid."
Griffiths, who took his tally for the season to 39, told potential challengers next season to "come ahead" and claimed the de facto title victory, Celtic's fifth in succession, was a fitting tribute to Deila: "He has been nothing but positive. Even when things weren't going our way, he was still positive and still trying to look on the bright side," he said.
"We didn't play our best, but we stuck together as a team and got the result in the end. Everybody will improve next season. The league is going to be strong next season, but we will be champions and, hopefully next season, make it six."
Hearts had already secured third spot in the table and a European place before kick-off and substitute Abiola Dauda's leveller in the 56th minute came at a point in the game when they were on top, but a couple of defensive lapses proved costly.
Despite the second successive 3-1 defeat to the Hoops in April, Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson insists his side are growing in belief and confidence following their return to the top flight this season: "We spoke after the last game when we lost 3-1 at Celtic Park," he said.
"And we agreed that we were more pleased having lost 3-1 and having turned in a good performance than drawing 0-0 because anybody can go to Parkhead and sit it out, hope you ride your luck and they miss 10 shots - or you can go there and have a go.
"Trust yourself to go and play and take your chances. We are a club that is progressing, who can go to Parkhead and Ibrox and have a go."