Ronny Deila, the Celtic manager, last night questioned the Scottish champions' rigorous pre-season schedule and admitted that the build-up to a new campaign will be markedly different should he still be at the helm next year.
Deila is already facing a mammoth test of his managerial mettle tonight as his Celtic side try to overturn a 4-1 deficit against Legia Warsaw in the second leg of the Champions League qualifiers at Murrayfield. Celtic's pre-season involved four games in 12 days during a trip to Austria before the Parkhead club embarked on a series of hops around Europe that also took in Germany and Finland, with Champions League qualifiers in Iceland and Poland thrown in.
Deila was left cursing his team's lack of "energy" and "commitment" during last week's calamitous collapse in Warsaw and the Norwegian believes the preparation for the Champions League has to take priority over largely meaningless meanders in an increasing list of friendly encounters that were arranged before he took up the reins.
Loading article content
"Next year it's going to be totally different, yes," insisted Delia. "For me it's a very easy question to answer. The other teams from England who are away are not playing Champions League qualifiers.
"Of course, we can do both but it has to be a decision taken together with the manager. The last one, Neil Lennon, maybe thought differently, I don't know what happened there. But for me, I want it more relaxed. I want to train without travelling too much on long journeys to play matches. It's an important thing. For four weeks you need to prepare very well."
Deila admitted that he has already aired his views on pre-season plans to Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell.
He added: "We talk all the time. With this, something was put together and we had to go through the programme. But next year I will be more involved in what's happening. And I will think it's better for us to do things differently."
Celtic now need to conjure a result that would give Deila the biggest moment of his managerial career thus far. He added: "It would be unbelievable, up there with the best nights of my life. I'm sure it would be for a lot of people also.
"That's the dream. But we need a much better performance now."