19 Mar It’s child’s play for Deila
Celtic boss Ronny Deila says his side are playing with a freedom and the spirit of youth after their convincing 4-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final replay win over Dundee United.
After a start to a campaign that was littered with school-boy errors, Celtic have passed every stern domestic examination of them to put them close to a domestic clean sweep.
And Norwegian boss Deila believes the turnaround is down to the players playing with a youthful exuberance.
“We are in a very good place right now. You can see the players are happy, they love playing together,” he said.
“They see the way they train and work benefits them on the pitch, the rhythm is coming more and more.
“Players have to enjoy playing and look forward to every game that’s the way it should be.
“When you see seven or eight-year-old girls or boys playing football you can see their enjoyment when they play and I think you see that in our squad.
“That’s the only way players get better is when they are enjoying it.
“We’re one step closer but we have to keep performing and winning games.”
Celtic go head-to-head with Dundee United for a fourth time in a fortnight this weekend after their 4-0 win in midweek.
There have been six red cards in total dished out to both sides in three games, with Anthony Stokes and Ryan McGowan the latest to be dismissed, but Deila doesn’t think it will spill over into Saturday.
“Footballers forget things very quick. There is no problem. We can fight on the pitch and in training an when you come into the dressing room it is forgotten.
“Both sending offs were right. Stokes got a knock and was bleeding when he is going off the pitch, but he reacted and that is not good.”
Deila was scathing of McGowan’s tackle on Liam Henderson which United say they will appeal.
And he dismissed claims by United assistant boss Simon Donnelly that it was similar in nature to Scott Brown’s challenge on Nadir Ciftci.
“It was a tough tackle. I don’t understand why he is doing that,” he continued.
“It was a reaction, it was too much for him. It was 3-0 and it is in the corner.
“It is a stupid tackle an when you come from behind it is very dangerous. Liam is okay.
“Football is important and to win is important but we have to protect each other as well.
“My players put in hard tackles some time but we have to avoid the stupid ones.”