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Celtic must grab second chance

YOU don't often get a second chance in life.

But Celtic and Ronny Deila this week received the biggest get-out- of-jail-free card I have ever seen in football. To get thrashed 6-1 on aggregate by a team who I think are of a similar standard, then find out you are still in the Champions League qualifying hunt because Legia Warsaw fielded an ineligible player, is an incredible turnaround.

It is the circumstances, too: it is not as if the player in question made a significant contribution to the tie. The Polish side actually left him out of the three games he had to serve for his European ban, they just hadn't registered him for two of them. From Legia's point of view, it is a catastrophic mistake. It will cost the club millions and someone their job. It is a shame but Scottish teams don't get much luck in Europe. Celtic need to grab it with both hands and make sure they don't make the same mistakes again.

This isn't just a reprieve for the manager, it is a reprieve for the club at boardroom level. Their plans for the season were probably ripped up, they must have been thinking 'where do we go from here?' But now they have a chance to rectify them as well.

Directors, manager and players, everyone has to take the blame for what happened on Wednesday night. Regardless of whether it was at Celtic Park or Murrayfield, I was sure there would be some point where Celtic would have a go and be right on top. But it just didn't come. It was one of the worst performances I have seen.

That is why Deila has questions to answer. But if his players go out and do what they did, he has no chance. In the first leg they had a horrific time, a real off night. By the end, Celtic were 2-1 down, a man down, and still playing an open system. His players didn't seem to be carrying out his instructions on the park.

And the second leg team smacked of a bit of panic. He had players who didn't play in the first leg coming in to play in the second leg, and players who did play in the first leg all shifted to different positions.

People have been comparing the Norwegian to the Paul Le Guen era at Rangers, but while things haven't reached that point yet, I do think there are some of the same warning signs. A manager's job is to get the best out of his players, but I'm not sure all of his players are buying into his methods. Things can go sour quickly at a big club and I don't think there was much wrong at Celtic before Deila's arrival, apart from the fact they maybe needed to add a few players of quality. Sometimes you just have to keep it bubbling along, get your results, then you can implement more of your changes. Celtic start their Premiership campaign on Wednesday and that should buy him a bit of time if he can get a couple of results there. But Deila has already got a job on his hands to get a positive reaction. The hardest part of a manager's job is when your team is getting beaten, how to pick them up and get into their heads. He must be wiping the sweat from his brow, and thinking I have got a second chance. Maybe he will handle things differently in the next couple of weeks, but the board have to handle it differently too - they need to give him some tools to work with.

You have to take Wednesday night's result wholesale, it was the product of a combination of factors. I feel for Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell a bit because sometimes he is only implementing direct orders which come from majority shareholder Dermot Desmond, and in general I don't mind Celtic cutting back because of the way Scottish football has gone. But they have to show the fans something. I know money has been frittered away on signings which haven't worked out, but there should still be enough of the cash recouped on the likes of Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper to add some quality to the squad. Instead it has been continual cutting and it has backfired on them spectacularly at football and business level. I am not talking about Premiership level, because they will win that anyway, but they can't cut the budgets continually and still compete at Champions League level.

With Rangers desperate again for money, Celtic had an opportunity with a bit of judicious spending to keep them at arm's length for the next 10 years. Instead, it seems as if they are waiting for the Ibrox club to get back before they spend it.

But at least Celtic and Deila have the opportunity to put things right. Sometimes you don't get a chance to fix these things. Maribor are another Legia Warsaw; on the face of it, it is another level game. But if Celtic don't sort out their problems at business level, and learn from their mistakes at football level, it won't be.

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