New Celtic boss Deila shrugs off Klopp comparison

Ronny Deila started life as Celtic’s manager by refuting comparisons with top German boss Jurgen Klopp to insist he is his own man.

Ronny Deila started life as Celtic’s manager by refuting comparisons with top German boss Jurgen Klopp to insist he is his own man.

The 38-year-old Norwegian was on Friday confirmed as the successor to Neil Lennon, who left the Scottish champions two weeks ago after four years in charge.

Deila, who guided Stromsgodset to their first title in 43 years last season and won the Norwegian Cup in 2010, has been favourably compared to the highly-successful Borussia Dortmund manager, whose football philosophy has earned him many admirers.

At a packed media conference at Celtic Park which required answers to a host of questions, Deila confirmed that former Celtic and Scotland midfielder John Collins was one of several candidates to be his number two, while chief executive Peter Lawwell admitted he was in talks with former Hearts and Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon.

When subsequently asked if he was the Norwegian version of Klopp, the new Celtic boss replied: “No, I am Ronny Deila.

“But I like Jurgen Klopp. He is a modern leader, very close to the players, and I think that is important.

“You have to get the players to feel safe and they also have to feel loved, and Jurgen Klopp is fantastic at doing that.

“He also has good offensive play which gives energy to a stadium, and when you have a stadium like Celtic Park you need energy in the stands and on the pitch.

“But I don’t think too much about it. I am me and I have to be me. I hope somebody one day will say ’he is like Ronny Deila’.”

Lawwell described Deila as a “progressive, intelligent and modern” manager who “has a fantastic track record in winning and developing a team”.

“He fits perfectly with where we are as a club,” Lawwell added.

There was more levity when the Norwegian joked that only a Champions League final victory would see a repeat of his famous strip, which has been widely viewed on YouTube in recent days.

After avoiding relegation in 2009, Deila stripped down to his underwear and did some push-ups in front of the supporters.

When reminded of his somewhat unusual celebration, he smiled and said: “I am not so happy about that. I hope I am more fit now than I was then.

“What can I say? It was a bet between the fans and me in 2009. We lost the old players because we didn’t have any money, so we had to play a young team.

“It was critical point in the season and I said on television that if we stay up I will strip. We stayed up and the clothes went off but the pictures were not so good.”

Asked if there could be a repeat at Celtic, the new manager turned to Lawwell and laughed, saying: “We agreed that if we win the Champions League...”

Deila admitted he did not know too much about the opposition he will face in Scottish football but it is in Europe where he expects his first test – and one of the stiffest he will encounter.

The Norwegian’s first competitive game as Celtic boss will be a Champions League qualifier next month, the first of three the Hoops have to negotiate if they are to reach the group stages of the competition.

Deila insisted that moving to Glasgow was a “very easy decision” to make and looked forward to his first bite at the Champions League with his new club.

“I am very proud today,” he said. “It is a fantastic day for me.

“When I heard the name (Celtic) I was interested right away. I felt in my stomach it was the right move.

“It is a fantastic step (from Norwegian football) and I think it is the right step. I feel comfortable. I feel like this is like a family.

“It is my dream to take Celtic out in Europe and be in the Champions League. I really enjoy European football.

“You get a lot of energy at that level and I am so looking forward to getting good results. Celtic is a big club and they had done it before.”

Asked about Gordon, who is a free agent, Lawwell said: “He has been in training with us and we are just going through discussions with his agent at the moment to see if anything comes out of that.

“He came to train with us and he was excellent. Stevie Woods (goalkeeping coach) couldn’t speak highly enough about him so we might be close on that one.”

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