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Ronny Deila’s Development Strategy?

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Celtic defeat St Johnstone 3-0. © Phil McCloy

It’s been a little over a month since the transfer window closed and up until recently I, like most Celtic fans, have been underwhelmed with not only Celtic’s acquisitions but also the nature of the transfers. With only two permanent transfers and five loan signings it looked from the outset that the board were underlining their lack of faith in a manager that they have only given a one year contract to. I say up until recently, as it is Deila’s recent interviews which have given me a thought, maybe there is a method to the madness of building a team of loan signings.

Ronny Deila is all about development, in early interviews he was against loans because ‘Why would you want to develop other team’s players without any reward’ and I still think this is his opinion. There are however a few facts which lead me to believe Ronny has been smart with his loan signings and found a way in which to bring in players which will aid the development of the current squad.

Ronny has looked across Europe at the training methods of the Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool to name a few and is trying to bring a new method of training to Celtic. To do this he needs to find players that have already been training at an elite level who can lead the way in training and show the other players that what Ronny is trying to do can be done. The loans of John Guidetti and Jason Denayer do seem like the sort of loan signing that Ronny would be against. Two young players from Manchester City who have been signed with no option to buy smacks of developing other team’s players but in fact these signings are a way of showing the current squad of players where they should be in their development.

Celtics youth production has been slow in recent years with only a handful of players making it into the first team, so how can Ronny change this? I think he is doing it by bringing in development partners. Eoghan O’Connell is showing promise as a Celtic defender but he’s not there yet so Ronny brings in Jason Denayer, the same age and height as Eoghan but a different class in terms of ability and physicality. Is this Deila’s way of showing first hand where Eoghan should be at his age?

James Forest has shown glimpses of what he is capable of but often underwhelms, step up Wakaso Mubarak and Alexander Tonev, both a similar height and age to James Forrest but more consistent and physically stronger. Was Jo Inge Berget originally a development match for Callum McGregor? Is John Guidetti a development match for Šćepović or Stokes? There are noticeable physical and stylistic similarities between the players Ronny has brought in and the current squad of players which leads me to believe that these matches are intentional and it is a case of giving the players individual development partners.

The cynical side of me will look at the last transfer window and see it as the board unwilling to spend any of the money it has made in recent years from the Champions League and transfers. There is however another side that makes me think the current Celtic squad has got too many below par squad players from the previous regime and Ronny Deila seems like the sort of ambitious guy who thinks he can elevate the dead wood and improve the side without adding to it. Only time will tell to see if he can.

Written by Jamie Kilday

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