Graham Spiers popped up this morning with an intriguing article entitled
The piece opens up like this
“Ronny Deila has got many things right as a Celtic manager. But the start to this 2015-16 season at Celtic Park has reminded me again of how mysteriously and woefully wrong Deila has been over the prolific Leigh Griffiths.
I’m not sure what it is about a hungry, instinctive goalscorer that any football manager could doubt or quibble over. In Deila’s case, following some windy rhetoric about fitness and attitude, his position towards Griffiths has been utterly baffling. Only now, it seems, after a full season in charge of Celtic, does the Norwegian coach appear to have faith”
Mr Spiers expanded on his views with a few tweets, including these
I have a number of problems with Mr Spiers’ piece, to which I am sure he has counter-arguments.
But here goes…
Firstly, it is worth looking at a some statistics (admittedly the worst way to make an argument), to consider whether Ronny has struggled to recognise Grffiths’ability and prowess.
Well would you look at that!
Griffiths’ goals-to-game ratio (final two columns) is currently marginally better at Celtic than it was at Hibs. It’s almost as if he was a good goal scorer and he has carried on being a good goal scorer over a significant number of games at Celtic!
It’s almost as if he has been played in a position where he might score goals, and the team has then given him the opportunity to score a goal every other game.
At domestic as well as European level.
Clearly you could argue that IF Ronny had done x, and if y had happened, then Griffiths might have scored even more goals.
But would it have got Celtic into the Champions League group stages last year?
And would it have got them through that celebrated Scottish Cup semi-final against ICT?
Almost certainly not!
The Clumpany sometimes feels that sections of the media can’t bring themselves to admit that Ronny is (at least) a very decent manager.
True, he gave cause for concern early last season with the dismal start in Europe and some decidedly mixed results in the first part of the league season.
But he learned. And things came good.
Celtic got through their Europa League group, the last-32 tie against Inter was epic, and as well as winning the league by some distance (having beaten second-place Aberdeen four times), Celtic won a comparatively-rare League Cup.
And let us not forget that group stage European football of one sort or another is already guaranteed this season. Without any real dramas at all.
I won’t give noted contrarian Hugh Keevins the oxygen of publicity by discussing his ongoing downer on all things Ronny. I suspect he is beyond persuasion.
Maybe they struggle to know what to make of Ronny?
After all, he was an ‘outsider’ to Scottish football. He was a largely unknown quantity and he simply refuses to play the traditional ‘game’ of cliches, soundbites and cheap headlines with the media.
Ronny’s a clever man who is wary of what he himself described as the “circus” when discussing the recent ‘outrage’ over John Collins’ comments on the differences between players in European and Scottish domestic football.
So unless results start to go badly, the sports media – with column inches to fill – is always liked to end up chipping away at issues such as whether Grffiths has been used in the most effective way.
That’s fair enough, but we should recognise it for what it is.
Far be it from me to set much store by the views of Chris Sutton and John Hartson, but it is very interesting to note that after their initial pantomimesque loathing of all things ‘Ronny’, they have warned to him.
They have a feel for what Celtic is about, have seen the job he is doing, and approve of it.
Mr Spiers’ comments might carry more weight if he had been howling about the way Griffiths was being used during the course of last season.
Calling Ronny out for the way he played Griffiths in the past, at the very point when he is playing really well is great newspaper fodder, but it’s a bit rich!
To say the least.
Griffiths himself freely admits that he needs to keep his head down and work hard to be a success at Celtic.
Frankly, this is what any fan of a football club hopes to hear from any of its players!
And credit to Ronny for ensuring that this is how Leigh Griffiths views his position in the team!
No matter how many goals he is scoring.
Leigh Griffiths has done everything asked of him, and while no one would argue that he is ‘the finished product’ (just like Ronny’s team as a whole) he is making a huge contribution with some great goals, and – as we saw against Malmo – some BIG goals too.
The Clumpany looks forward to seeing him play every single time that he pulls on the Hoops. And that’s not something you can always say about every Celtic player.
I put that down to the attitude and graft of Griffiths and also to the efforts of Ronny to develop the player and mould a team.
A team that got within spitting distance of a Treble last season, and which has acquitted itself a lot better in Europe than it had at this point last year.
So overall, I think it should be a case of ‘as you were, Ronny’!
You are doing a great job.
So please let’s have a good result on Tuesday!