BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Celtic skipper Scott Brown has issued a stout defence of Ronny Deila but reckons winning the treble this season will be the best way to silence the manager’s increasingly-fierce critics.
Brown spoke out on the day Deila himself blamed the ‘crazy’ media for whipping up a frenzy in the wake of Saturday’s surprising 2-1 defeat to Motherwell, their fourth home match without a victory.
At the same time, it emerged an online petition, entitled ‘Sack Ronny Deila’, has been initiated by some supporters.
However, Brown copied his boss when he stressed the positives of a season in which Celtic have been knocked out of Europe twice but remain at the summit of the Premiership and still with the chance of winning both the League and Scottish Cups.
He said: “It’s very harsh. We are top of the league, we are a point clear of Aberdeen, who are having a good season.
“We are in both cups and, yeah, we were disappointed with Europe but there is nothing we can do about that.
“We just have to concentrate on the three tournaments that we are in.”
Brown, currently sidelined by a knee injury, has had to watch in frustration from the stands as his team-mates have, at times, struggled without him.
He knows improvements are needed but he is adamant that, with a tricky-looking trip to face Hearts at Tynecastle next up on Sunday, there are no issues with unity within the club – even if some fans do not share his backing for Deila.
He added: “The players are definitely behind the manager. There are no problems in our dressing-room at all, with the manager or anyone else.
“We have a great relationship with the gaffer; he’s in there, he’s enthusiastic about the way we play and he wants to get better.
“We agree with that, we want to get better and it’s more about what we do on the park, than what he does.
“Do I understand the frustration? You are never everyone’s cup of tea – I’m not!
“At the end of the day, we have to win games and that’s what we will try to do. Whether we win the league by 20 points or five or six points, all that matters is we get it.
“That’s what we all want on our CV and we need to go further in the cups than we did last year too. If we can get that treble, it will all be forgotten about.”
In need of a boost following a troublesome few weeks, Celtic have at least received a welcome pick-me-up with the news that Brown does not need an operation on his injured knee.
The Scotland skipper damaged ligaments last month and would have been kept on the sidelines for the remainder of the campaign had surgery been required.
Instead, the former Hibernian player is targeting a return to first-team action in the New Year.
He explained: “I went down to see the specialist on Friday and was told I don’t need the op.
“I’m delighted with that, so hopefully I can kick on now. It was a big relief because my season would have been over otherwise.
“Hopefully I can be back out there in about eight weeks.”
Brown was speaking during a visit to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where he presented a donation of £5,000 to Simpson’s Special Care Babies (SSCB). The charity and Cancer Research, who will also receive £5,000, are to benefit from the proceeds of Brown’s book, ‘Scott Brown: My Celtic Story’.
Brown’s son Sonny, who will turn three in March, spent almost two months in the hospital after being born two months prematurely in 2013 and SSCB is dedicated to the care of premature or sick newborn babies, and the support of their parents.
“It’s good to give something back,” he added. “My boy was born prematurely and this hospital did a lot for him. We were up here for about seven or eight weeks. I hope they can maybe get a bit of equipment for the ward, which might save someone’s life.”