• Celtic host Aberdeen in Scottish Premiership on Sunday lunchtime
  • Ronny Deila’s team can mathematically secure their fifth straight title
  • Departing Deila believes the Dons will be a force in the title race next season
  • Derek McInnes’ side have made the title race a little uncomfortable for Celtic 

Mark Wilson For The Scottish Daily Mail

Ronny Deila insists Aberdeen should not give up on ambitions of winning the Premiership title in the future after admitting they caused him genuine worry this season.

The departing Celtic manager hopes to arithmetically confirm five-in-a-row in winning style when Derek McInnes’ side visit Parkhead on Sunday lunchtime.

Aberdeen trail by nine points and have a vastly inferior goal difference, but Deila felt there were times when a far tighter end to the contest seemed possible.

Ronny Deila, the departing Celtic manager, believes Aberdeen can challenge for the title in the future

Ronny Deila, the departing Celtic manager, believes Aberdeen can challenge for the title in the future

Deila is preparing to take charge of his final three games as Celtic manager and can wrap up the title

Deila is preparing to take charge of his final three games as Celtic manager and can wrap up the title

Aberdeen have been a force this season and Deila believes they will continue to challenge the Old Firm

Aberdeen have been a force this season and Deila believes they will continue to challenge the Old Firm

Celtic can mathematically wrap up their fifth consecutive Scottish Premiership title on Sunday

Celtic can mathematically wrap up their fifth consecutive Scottish Premiership title on Sunday

With Rangers set to return after a four-year absence to increase top-flight competition, there is a perception in some quarters that the Dons have missed out on their best chance of becoming champions.

However, while admitting his successor will take charge of the clear favourites, Deila pointed to his own experience with Stromsgodset as evidence that a club with fewer resources can eventually triumph.

‘As I have said before, I won with a small club in Norway,’ he said. ‘It is possible.

‘But it took six years to do it and we were leading the league three times in a row in the summer by seven points.

‘In the first year we collapsed and fell seven points behind Molde, in the second year we were second, just three points behind first place, and in the last year we did it.

Deila said that Aberdeen could be even stronger next season if they continue their consistent form

Deila said that Aberdeen could be even stronger next season if they continue their consistent form

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes applauds the Pittodrie support after their 4-1 win over Motherwell 

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes applauds the Pittodrie support after their 4-1 win over Motherwell 

CELTIC FIXTURES  

May 8 Aberdeen (H)

Live on Sky Sports 3 

May 11 St Johnstone (A)

Live on Sky Sports 2 

May 15 Motherwell (H)

Live on Sky Sports 2 

‘You learn every year. If you keep consistency in the coach and the players everything is possible.

‘I think Aberdeen, if they can keep their consistency, will be even better next season – if they can get more experience and maybe get another couple of players as well.

‘They are doing positive things. It’s important that Celtic improves into next season, as well.

‘If not, they could be closer. But Celtic are the best team, now, and they have advantages over the other teams when next season starts.

‘Celtic have won five-in-a-row. That is massive and a fantastic achievement. That has to be seen as a positive with or without Rangers.’

Deila will exit Parkhead after his side are presented with the second Premiership trophy of his tenure a week on Saturday.

The return of Rangers, managed by Mark Warburton (left), will add further pressure on Celtic next season

The return of Rangers, managed by Mark Warburton (left), will add further pressure on Celtic next season

Deila is preparing to win his second Scottish Premiership title when Celtic take on Aberdeen on Sunday

Deila is preparing to win his second Scottish Premiership title when Celtic take on Aberdeen on Sunday

But the pressure applied by Aberdeen at various points – combined with Celtic’s patchy form – meant he never felt easy about that outcome.

‘When you are a coach you are always worried,’ the Norwegian added. ‘You don’t think “they have no chance”, of course they have a chance. The players, everybody, knows that. 

‘But in Celtic you have everything to lose and nothing to win and that’s a very difficult situation to be in. But I think the boys have handled that well.

‘We have won important games and we haven’t lost in the league since Aberdeen (in February).

‘You never know in football and I never took anything for granted. When I saw our performances, when we were not at our best and I didn’t see the progress that I wanted, then of course you are more worried than you would be if you were playing like we did last season.’

 

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