Saturday 20th February 2016, hopefully a date we will remember as the first time Scott Allan, Ryan Christie and Patrick Roberts appeared in a Celtic side together.
With each passing week that I check the Celtic team news at 2pm to find an attacking midfield three of Stuart Armstrong, Stefan Johansen and Gary Mackay-Steven a little part of me dies. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration. But alongide frustration and anger at recent performances, it is the disengagement and apathy amongst many fans that I believe speaks volumes about the state of our club at the moment. At times Ronny looks lost, the charisma and charm that we know he possesses, while yet to really be seen at Celtic, appears to have been replaced by a quiet and unassuming character. This reflects on the team. They perform with a lack of killer instinct and aggression. A nice bunch of guys who simply are not up for the fight. I cannot recall a Celtic side this season which has come back from adversity; be that going down to 10 men, an "honest mistake", or an Efe special. When this Celtic side gets stung, you can usually count on them whimpering out of the contest.
As the headline suggests, all is not doom and gloom. Or, at least it doesn't have to be. Within our large squad we have a small group of talented young footballers hungry to prove themselves. They have ability, vision and potential, and most importantly they play without fear when on the ball. Am I getting carried away?... Simply put, no. The grass is not always greener on the other side and I am not suggesting that the inclusion of the aforementioned trio will suddenly turn us into a Scottish Barcelona. We will still have a shaky defence, a lightweight midfield, and rely heavily on the goals of one man upfront. But Allan, Christie and Roberts, as well as, Liam Henderson and Tom Rogic possess a flair and excitement in the way they play the game. All 24 or under, they will go through periods of poor form as young players do, but we need a lift around the place, some entertainment to bring the fans back to Paradise. The link up play and positivity of Allan, Christie and Roberts was refreshing, but it is their movement and eagerness to receive the ball which I enjoyed watching the most. These kids want to play football. I don't think many would deny the usual starting trio of GMS, Johansen and Armstrong do possess talent (actually, I find myself doubting Armstrong's ability more and more each week), but they play without confidence at the moment, they are static, and they typify the passive aura which surrounds the entire club. They need taken out of the firing line, for their own sake as much as ours.
Ronny Deila is a man I have defiantly defended at times, I want him to succeed, the footballing ideals he speaks of are ones I believe in. Ronny is an inteligent man, if you've yet to do so, check out his 40 minute lecture on personal development and helping people reach their potential on youtube, it's a fantastic watch/read as long as you don't mind subtitles (but if you've made it this far you can't be that fussy about what you read).
The problem for Ronny is that his time at Celtic may already be up. It may well be that too many fans have lost patience. A year and a half into Deila's reign and the footballing principles and philosophy that Ronny speaks of have rarely been seen on the park, if ever. To me, he has nothing to lose now by showing faith in the youngsters who exude the energy he craves. They play with enjoyment and to a high-tempo, pressing up the park in hunt of the ball. This is the style of football Ronny wants Celtic to play. If he is to fall on his sword, I want to see him doing it fighting for what he believes in as opposed to going out with the same whimper we so often see from his team. I don't believe sticking with the safe option and falling over the finish line in the title race will be enough to keep Ronny in the job long term. It is time for Ronny to believe in himself again. There needs to be on-field evidence of progress regarding his outlook on the game, this side needs to start to become a team, united in their goals, and those not willing to participate should be kindly shown the door. Ronny and his Celtic side must rid themselves of their fear of failure. The passion that we saw in that very first, spontaneous, Ronny roar needs to return. We need a unified and energised Celtic; players, backroom staff, and supporters. We need some momentum, and we need it now.
If he doesn't show some hope in his team selections and style of play soon, I fear, Ronny's time will be up.
Show us what you're made of Ronny.