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Deila uses the pastoral aspect of education to connect with his players on a human level and coax the very best out of them

In a country where the national team manager is working towards a PhD, discussions on what constitutes being a coach often drift into the academic and educational aspects of the role. Egil Olsen was notorious for his theoretical and analytical approach to the game and Nils Arne Eggen, the legendary Rosenborg coach, was a qualified teacher.

Ronny Deila is superb dealing with players and can work  on a tight budget. Picture: EPA
Ronny Deila is superb dealing with players and can work on a tight budget. Picture: EPA

Ronny Deila, close to being appointed to the vacant Celtic post and the brightest young coach of his generation in Norway, also completed his studies to become a teacher, after his mother always insisted on the need for him to have something to fall back on should his football ambitions fall short.

While Deila is well grounded in football theory and has a distinct and clear opinion on how the game should be played, it is not the academic aspect of the teacher role that he has used to drive the unlikely domestic success he has had with Stromsgodset. It is the extent to which he uses the pastoral aspect of being an educator that truly defines him as a coach.

For Deila, it is about the whole person, not just the footballer. His guiding philosophy on man-management is that, if a player does not cope properly outside of football, he will not improve significantly on the pitch.

Deila has been described as an exceptional listener, a person with whom you would want to have that difficult and serious conversation, as he possesses the ability to push the right buttons, to make people reflect. For Deila, it is all about creating a safe environment, building trust between him and his players.

His experience of having played under Roy Hodgson at Viking is telling: he describes it as feeling permanently unsafe, always in fear of making a mistake.

Deila wants to create the opposite for his own players: allowing them the space to try, fail and learn, over and over again. His only demand is that they dedicate fully to become better players, continuously challenging them to improve.

It is essential for Deila that he not only connects with his players through his football vision but also on a human level. This may be the most overlooked of several challenges he will face if appointed Celtic manager.

Deila would not only have to translate his personal skills in a literal sense - his English, as with most Scandinavians, is good, but he will know he will need to improve it in order to fully immerse himself in more sensitive and complex conversations - but also realise the societal and cultural differences that come with going from working with a predominately Norwegian squad, to one with players from all over the world. All of this, too, within a context of a football culture which historically has applied a lot less subtle and caring approach to man-management than that on which Deila has built his reputation.

Stepping too far away from the authoritarian, hard-nosed stereotype of a football coach in Britain comes with its inherent risks. Luiz Felipe Scolari's tenure at Chelsea was perceived as having faltered because of similar issues. The Brazilian was evidently a lot more comfortable working in an environment where the players see their coach more as a father figure and accept him as a pastoral influence. He struggled to connect with the experienced individualists and large egos in the Chelsea dressing-room.

While Deila's personal skills have wielded great success among a group of mostly young players that he has worked with over many years, to replicate that within a limited time in a squad full of internationalists with pre-conceived ideas of what a manager should be like will be anything but simple.

In strictly football terms, Celtic have obviously done their homework with Deila. He seems a perfect fit in many ways. He is dedicated to an offensive and attractive style, once stating that he would rather his team was relegated than to play bad football.

His Plan B is very much about making Plan A work better, his confidence in his system drilled into the players, asking them to trust him that they will be rewarded if they just keep doing what he is asking of them.

In addition to playing attractive football, his other aim when taking over at Stromsgodset was to make them the best club in the country when it came to player development, a mission very much completed.

He is perfectly happy not to bring in the finished article, but rather concentrate on working fully to develop the players he has, improving them both individually and in terms of maximising their contribution to the collective, ultimately making the team better than the mere sum of its parts.

Deila is perfectly comfortable working within a director of football structure. Jostein Flo, brother of the former Rangers player Tore-Andre, filled that role throughout Deila's tenure at Stromsgodset. In fact, while he will be clear on what kind of players he would need, he is likely to be more of a head coach than the classic British manager. Rather than have one eye constantly on the transfer market, his main focus is instead dedicated to the team's tactical execution on the pitch and the improvement of his current squad.

On paper, appointing Deila makes ­perfect sense for Celtic. In reality, the change in environment he would have to adapt to seems at first almost insurmountable. Even in Norwegian terms, the media pressure and fan involvement around Stromsgodset is moderate at most.

Taking over a club the size of Rosenborg or Valerenga in Norway would have been a real change from what he is used to, but stepping straight into the pressure cooker of football in Glasgow, where everything you say and do is scrutinised and criticised from all corners, will be a completely different world for Deila. That, together with his very limited European football experiences - he has only managed Stromsgodset in six European ties and lost four - will be seen as his biggest challenge.

However, whether Deila is a success or not at Celtic may ultimately come down to something a lot more subtle than how he seems to handle being under the microscope of the Scottish media and the fans.

It is his personal nature, his ability to connect and identify with his players, guiding and developing them on and off the field that is the essence of why Ronny Deila, at the age of only 38 and from a small football nation, is on the verge of taking over one of the biggest clubs in the world.

If he can find a way to make his human ­qualities translate and connect with the players and people at Celtic, to be accepted as the teacher that builds you up and spurs you on, success on the field will surely follow.

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