'GAMBLE' on deila PAYS OFF WITH TITLE
Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell admits they took a risk in appointing Ronny Deila as manager - but he feels the Norwegian's first title win can be a launch pad to lasting success.
Deila was a relative unknown in Scotland before being installed as Neil Lennon's successor last summer.
But the Norwegian had led unfashionable Stromsgodset to the title in his native land and Lawwell was persuaded to take the bold step after interviewing the then 38-year-old - after Roy Keane had turned down the chance to take the job.
Lawwell said: "Clearly, as part of my job, you need to be aware of what's going on in the football world and we knew about Ronny and what he had and what he achieved, and the skills and attributes he had, so when we were looking for a manager he was on the list.
"We met him, he was very, very impressive and although some would think we took a risk - which we probably did - we felt that he was an ideal candidate for Celtic and he fitted really well with our strategy, which is to create a winning, entertaining football team, to create football players, to create a team, a backroom staff and develop players, and he's been fantastic. So he has done remarkably well, I'm really confident for the future that, after this first year, he now has a foundation.
"He's a winner, he's a champion and there will be a really solid foundation to take this magnificent club forward."
The wisdom of the gamble was initially not so clear. Celtic were knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers twice - once by Legia Warsaw and then by Slovenians Maribor after the Polish champions were punished for fielding a suspended player.
Celtic dropped 10 points in their opening eight league games - a 1-0 defeat to Hamilton in October left them in sixth spot - as Deila tried to introduce a pressing game to his players.
Lawwell said: "The challenge is that, here at Celtic, nothing prepares you for the Celtic job.
"You really need to be in it before you know what it means and the demands of it, so he had to deal with that. He had to deal with creating and developing the team while, at the same time, having to win every week.
"Ronny's got a fantastic and engaging personality, and our fans are seeing that," Lawwell added.