It’s been a tough old time for Ronny Deila since Celtic were embarrassingly denied a Champions League group stage place by Malmo.
For the first time since the same thing happened twice last season, the Norwegian has had to deal with some intense criticism.
And the growing calls for his head looked fair when the champions were thoroughly outplayed by Aberdeen at Pittodrie just over a week ago.
By Jonny Boyle – Lead Columnist – @beanroll
A draw in Amsterdam against Ajax and a convincing 6-0 victory over Dundee yesterday have steadied the ship and reinforced reports that Peter Lawwell and the Celtic board believe he’s still the right man for the job.
That should come as no real surprise despite the failure to reach the European Promised Land.
If defeats to Legia Warsaw, Maribor and Malmo so far in his career didn’t demonstrate his inability to manage big games well enough, then the 2-1 loss to 10-man Aberdeen certainly did.
He’s failed his big tests to date – and he must subscribe to the thinking of most Celtic fans who believe they deserve to be out of the Champions League.
Legia outplayed them for the majority of both legs of their qualifier last term, while Maribor never really looked like losing too.
As for Malmo, the defensive frailty which saw them surrender not one, but two, two-goal leads in Glasgow reared its ugly head before everything that’s wrong with zonal marking was demonstrated by Craig Gordon and the Hoops defence in Sweden.
Deila got it wrong sending his team out to protect the lead when a very average Malmo were there to be beaten again.
But he quite rightly deserves almost all of the criticism going for their approach to corner kicks.
And the defeat in Aberdeen compounded a shocking start to the season as a lifeless Celtic side again lost their lead before going on to lose the game and fall an eventual five points behind the Dons in the title race.
However, I’ll say again, none of this makes me think Deila deserves the chop.
I’ve always remembered Celtic as a club which stands by their own and in Ronny they should trust.
For starters, his Ronny Roar breathed new life into a support growing increasingly frustrated with the challenge a Rangers-less Scottish top-flight poses.
Welcoming Barcelona, Manchester United or Bayern Munich to Parkhead is huge for a club like Celtic – on the pitch, in the stands and in the boardroom.
But the regular clashes with their Glasgow rivals is something fans could bank on despite what many say.
So Ronny’s approach to galvanising his squad and the supporters last term was admirable considering they had no real run in Europe and only one meeting with Rangers in the cup.
Even more impressive when you consider he had just five weeks to build a team for the season before playing his first competitive game as boss.
Deila – an unknown despite leading lowly Stromsgodset to the Norwegian title – was announced as the surprising choice to replace Neil Lennon on June 6, 2014.
Fast forward 39 days and he was in the dugout for Celtic’s opening Champions League qualifier against KR Reykjavik.
Of the team which started that game, every player was inherited from his predecessor.
And of the team which was beaten 1-0 by Maribor at Parkhead just 41 days after, only Craig Gordon and Jo Inge Berget were Deila signings.
Only now is the Norwegian boss – so vocal on his vision of football and the stamp he wants to put on Celtic – getting the team he wants.
Six men appeared in the August defeat to Malmo who were signed by Deila.
And the weekend win over Dundee saw five make an appearance, with a further three sitting on the bench alongside youngster Kieran Tierney – whose breakthrough into the first team has been led by Deila and his coaching team.
That’s not counting Jozo Simunovic, Scott Allan or Ryan Christie, who will make his way to Glasgow after finishing a season-long loan at Inverness.
Come next season’s inevitable (Celtic should still have enough to overhaul Aberdeen to win the league) Champions League qualifying campaign, Deila’s new men should be better for having their first season under the belt and any more signings should be arriving to fill out a squad well covered in most areas at the moment.
Soon enough, it won’t be the squad he inherited from Lennon – it will be his.
And that’s the point where a Champions League exit followed by an embarrassing defeat at Aberdeen should spell the end of his Celtic career.
In a time where chairmans and chief executives are money mad and supporters grow more and more impatient, it would be easy for the club to cut Deila off.
He arrived as a risk and could be sacked tomorrow as an appointment which very nearly paid off after just over one year in the job.
But give him one more season to create his own team, another shot at Europe and a regular run at Rangers and only then will we know if he’s up to the task of managing Celtic.