Yesterday Ronny Deila bowed out of Celtic as the side racked up one its best wins of the season.
When the team was announced I thought it sounded somewhat ridiculous, but the formation sounded even more defensive than usual, because we didn’t have a recognised forward in the squad and we were playing Ryan Christie up front.
But the rest of the team was exciting to me.
Christie is a player I’ve admired a lot for a long time, and I was dying to see how well he did.
The midfield excited me too, with Stuart Armstrong lining up alongside Rogic.
That, to me, was the dream partnership.
It was a stunning performance from those guys, all three of them, and from Roberts and Tierney. There’s the makings of a very good Celtic team here, and they would all be a part of the starting line-up for me every single week, and I’ve thought so for a while.
I found it amazing that Ronny didn’t start these guys as a group more often.
Instead, he overly relied on a handful of players who let him down time and again. I understand that Scott Brown is the captain, but he’s one of the lead culprits. As too is Johansen, who was a manager’s favourite for reasons that, this season, defeated logic and understanding. Nir Bitton, although a decent player on his day, slows down the pace of the team and maybe that’s what the manager wanted but we certainly didn’t suffer for his absence yesterday.
Such was the intensity of the display yesterday, such was the ease with which the season was wrapped up, that I wondered if perhaps things might have been different had Ronny given the guys who started a chance much sooner.
A lot of what he did baffled me at times, but I was never more puzzled than by his refusal to utilise certain players in certain positions during the campaign.
As wedded to his 4-2-3-1 formation as Ronny was, I still can’t believe he didn’t once go with an obvious, and adventurous, team selection that would have fitted that system perfectly. The key part of it would have been the central midfield of Brown and Armstrong, behind Christie wide left, Rogic (or indeed Commons) in the middle and Roberts wide right.
That system would have given us all the attacking options we needed and would have found midfield berths for our three top central players. It would have given us the natural width that we’ve lamented the absence of for many, many months. It would have given the team vigour and drive. Instead, we’ve seen guys played out of position or missing in action for weeks at a time.
When you saw the fitness and energy levels yesterday you can’t have helped but wonder what our team would have looked like had these guys played every week. On that form yesterday our cup semi-final against Sevco would have been over by half time.
I hope Ronny goes on to a great managerial career. He’s a fine man, a decent, warm, open and honest person, a genuine class act and he leaves Glasgow with all our best wishes, but I wonder if he also leaves with a lot of personal regret and the thought of what might have been. Watching the Young Hoops drive the team forward yesterday I can’t help but think of how different it all might have been, had he trusted those guys with his future.
They would have carried it without dropping it.
They would have saved his job.
As it is, they’re going to be the foundation stones of the next manager’s success.