Sunday 23 October 2016

Ronny Deila: Stefan Johansen is top candidate to be player of the year

Celtic boss thinks that his fellow Norwegian could be player of year

Partick Thistle goalkeeper Scott Fox (right) saves from Celtic's Stefan Johansen (second right) during the Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow
Partick Thistle goalkeeper Scott Fox (right) saves from Celtic's Stefan Johansen (second right) during the Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow

Ronny Deila claims Stefan Johansen is just one of several Celtic players in contention for the player of the year award after the Norway midfielder scored in the 2-0 win over Partick Thistle.

Johansen was handed the armband for the first time as a Parkhead player in the absence of suspended Scott Brown and turned in a man of the match performance.

A Kris Commons penalty a minute before the break - after Thistle midfielder James Craigen had been shown a straight red card by referee Willie Collum for a last man foul on Hoops midfielder Stuart Armstrong - gave the home side a deserved lead.

Johansen, widely believed to heading the race to be player of the year with Celtic keeper Craig Gordon, added a second in the 63rd minute as the Hoops retained their seven-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership over Aberdeen.

The Celtic boss, whose side have a game in hand, is just happy to sit back and enjoy the performances of his player this season and let others choose the best. Deila said: "The best players have been at Celtic and you have to pick.

"It is very hard for me to do and I don't think it is right for me to do it either, because it is different positions.

"Stefan is one who is having a very good season. I think a lot of people here have done well here. I have talked about Virgil van Dijk, Jason Denayer, and Nir Bitton has done well and Scott Brown has been very good.

"So you have to pick. I just see that a lot of our players performing well. But Stefan is an important player, a good player.

"He is working hard and I think he did a good job and deserved to be the captain, I think he has had a good season all along but he is stepping up all the time."

Deila believes his side could have had more of a cutting edge, especially in the early stages when they dominated.

He said: "I am satisfied with the performance. The first 15 minutes was very good. We should have scored one or two goals but Partick showed they are a good team.

"But we should be more effective, because we had a lot of chances."

Thistle manager Alan Archibald watched his side hold out before being hit by a double-whammy just before the interval when they lost a player and a goal.

The former Jags defender said: "I haven't watched it back yet but I thought it was a penalty at the time.

"It is one of those rules that hopefully they will change because they get penalised twice with the loss of the man and the goal.

"You always think you are going to get a touch on the ball with hindsight you would rather they just let him go through and let the keeper try to save it.

"But in the heat of the moment you always think you are going to get there so it is a hard one for James. He has been really good in recent weeks after getting back into the team.

"It is hard even with 11 men but I was proud of the way they organised themselves, the shape was good with 10 men."


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