Should Ronny Deila pay the price for Celtic's failure to make it out of the Europa League?

NO, says Alison McConnell

IT'S increasingly difficult to make a case for Deila who has looked out of depth this season where Europe has been concerned.

In many ways he is right to say that it is small margins that have decided Celtic's fate this season, in both the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League.

But the issue is that those small margins create big problems.

Everything was sailing along nicely this summer until that shocker of a second half against Malmo in the Champions League play-off. Since then it has been a downward spiral with an alarming inability to halt the decline when it has been in progress.

Individual errors have been particularly problematic and while offensively the bulk of the play has been decent, the defence has never looked solid at any point.

The question now is whether Deila can be trusted with a third crack at getting the club into the group stages of the Champions League.

With so much money riding on the outcome of that challenge, it is a massive call to make.

And with the likes of Davie Moyes available and Roy Keane - always a favourite of Dermot Desmond's - making noises about a return to club football there could be options available for Celtic to change things.

But it was only this time last week that Deila was given a resounding vote of confidence by the Celtic chief executive and chairman. The jury will almost certainly remain out on him until the end of the season.

YES, says Gary Keown

DERMOT DESMOND, the major shareholder, insisted earlier this season that Celtic must still regard qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League as an objective.

If he allows Ronny Deila to remain as manager in the wake of this latest, quite spectacular, failure at European level, it can hardly be said that his actions match his words.

There is concern amongst Celtic supporters over reduced levels of ambition at their club in the wake of Rangers’ demise and continuing with things as they are will simply confirm that.

Deila is not completely to blame for Celtic’s woes in UEFA competition. There are clear issues to be addressed with regards to recruitment that rest further up the chain. There are questions to be asked over whether more of the millions brought in from sales should have been reinvested in the playing staff. Several things must change.

When all is said and done, though, Deila is the manager and the buck stops with him when it comes to recent results. There is no getting away from it. They have been abysmal.

There were mitigating circumstances last season. He was trying to put a new team together at the time of the qualifying stages. It hardly excuses being taken apart by Legia Warsaw and knocked out of the Champions League by a team from Slovenia, but there was a degree of understanding within the board and support.

He somehow made it through the resultant Europa League group and a spirited display against a mediocre Inter Milan side in the round of 32 offered enough to suggest he might just get it right at European level in time. He deserved another opportunity.

This season has been a catastrophe, though. An absolute disaster. There can be no excuses. Celtic simply haven’t been good enough. Talk of this side being expected to reach the knockout stages of club football’s premier competition seems fanciful at best.

The ‘Champions route’ into the Champions League group stages was devised to give sides such as Celtic a better chance of claiming a regular place at football’s top table. It helps ensure that they are not coming up against the likes of Arsenal, with their vastly superior budget, in the qualifying rounds.

A fat lot of good it has done them. Celtic had to beat Malmo in the qualifiers. They had the tie in the palm of their hands in the first leg and blew it, allowing Jo Inge Berget, an absolute waste of time during his short stay at Parkhead, to score a crucial goal in stoppage-time.

Inability to defend, coupled with ludicrous individual errors, is now the trademark of this Celtic side. Their display in Sweden in the second leg, losing 2-0 and being eliminated, was dreadful. It was nothing compared to what unfolded against Molde in the Europa League group stage, mind you.

Those two matches against a side enduring an awful campaign in the Norwegian Tippeligaen should have been the end of the story for Deila. They were embarrassing.

Deila is not working with the kind of squad his predecessors enjoyed. He is certainly not working with a similar budget. However, Celtic must surely be capable of beating mid-table Norwegian opposition.

As it was, they were humiliated by them. The first leg in Molde was a defensive shambles. The second leg was arguably even worse. The side remained incapable of dealing with counterattacking football, but showed no heart, no appetite, no guile. Nothing, really.

When it gets to that stage, it is time to make a change. Those matches against Molde were as bad as anything Celtic have served up in European football in recent memory. Even in the infamous 5-0 thrashing by Artmedia Bratislava in Gordon Strachan’s first game, they were in control of the game until Chris Sutton went off with a broken cheekbone in the opening period.

There seems little to suggest Celtic are prepared to adopt a more pragmatic approach in Europe. Deila and his assistant, John Collins, are committed to attacking football. They will stick with that as long as they are in charge.

That is all very well, but it is not bringing results where it matters.

Deila could go on and win a domestic treble. It doesn’t really matter. Celtic should be winning everything at home. There is no credible competition. Europe is where he must be judged.

No-one expects him to be blazing a trail across the continent. Desmond’s vision of a place in the Champions League knockout stages is probably too big an ask.

However, Celtic, at this moment, cannot match up to Malmo, Maribor and Molde. They are not at the races in the Europa League. That is simply unacceptable.