BILLY STARK, the former Celtic player and coach, has described Ronnie Deila as naive for speaking in public about winning a Treble this season because it put unnecessary pressure on the squad.

Talk of a clean sweep came out of Parkhead as far back as last summer, along with reaching the Champions League, and the team fell short of both goals.

Stark, who is coaching at Albion Rovers, felt that even if Deila and the players had their collective eye on winning all three domestic trophies, such thoughts should have been kept to themselves.

"You could say it’s the best and worst time to be Celtic manager because the focus changes a bit from winning the league to the European performances," said Stark. "That hasn’t gone well and they’re carrying that baggage a bit. The pressure then carries on to making sure they win the Treble.

"I don’t think it was wise anyone talking about that. They should have batted that away and not got caught up in all of that. It doesn’t do them any good.

“Maybe it was a wee bit of naivety from Ronny Deila. I would have told the players not to mention the treble. You’re going to be asked about it but there’s different degrees to which you can talk about it.

“I know deflecting it doesn’t make great copy for the media, but it increased the pressure on them because when you talk about the treble and you lose one of those trophies then it’s another bat for people to hit you with.”

Stark scored just five minutes into his Old Firm debut for Celtic, a goal that turned out to be the winner in August 1987.

It went a long way to him winning over the supporters who had grown used him scoring against their team for St Mirren and Aberdeen.

And he believes beating Rangers in next month’s Scottish Cup semi-final would do Deila the world of good.

Stark said: “Deila could win back some of the fans if he wins. The Old Firm does that. Going back to my first Old Firm game, winning it cements your standing among the supporters.

“For Deila, to win that game would repair a lot of the damage that has been done - without a doubt.

"So in some ways for him, if it turns out right it’s a great draw. Before it, I’m not sure he would have wanted this game.”

Stark has been delighted to see Leigh Griffiths enjoy such a great season, having worked with him some years ago with the Scotland set-up.

Stark, who won a Double with Celtic in the club’s centenary year, said: "I gave Leigh his Scotland debut and I remember giving him his first international appearance at Under-19 level when we were out with Hungary.

“Leigh was with Livingston at the time and they had their Italian owners and I remember going to speak to them because it was a dilemma for them.

“They wanted Leigh to be a Scotland international - probably so they could punt him - but at the same time they didn’t want him to go because he was going to miss a couple of games for Livingston.

“There was a bit of negotiation which went on but he came with us. I had him from then right through to Under-21s so I know him as well as you can without working with him daily.

“He’s has had some issues off the pitch and a lot of criticism but the one thing about him was that in games he was never lazy, he gave you his lost and he could always score.

“He can score all types of goals and the people who know him would say the same things. In the last year people have said he’s good in the air but everyone knew he could hang there - he’s got every finish in his armoury and when you’re playing for a successful Celtic side then you expect the front players to score.

“But it’s no surprise to me to see him doing well. I’m pleased for Leigh and I never had any bother with him in terms of his behaviour."

Stark was a star for the Aberdeen side who last won the title, in 1985, when he scored 20 league goals from midfield.

And while he still views Celtic as favourites, they are a point ahead with a game in hand, the 56-year-old has been impressed by the way Derek McInnes and his players have refused to go away.

“When you look at what Aberdeen did last season you could have made a case for them challenging for the title because they improved the squad," said Stark. "They brought in the likes of Graeme Shinnie but they’ve had a couple of injuries - Jonny Hayes and Adam Rooney which I thought would have cost them more dearly.

“Simon Church might take up the mantle in terms of Rooney’s goal scoring and it’s not the greatest surprise they’re challenging but I still expect Celtic to win the title.

“I’ve been in football a long enough to know anything can happen and you’ve seen it in cup competitions with Celtic - the Efe Ambrose sending off in this season’s semi-final and the decision that went against them in last season’s semi-final - but you would expect them to win the title over a league campaign with their resources.

“Can Aberdeen keep it going right to the end? They will be able to do it more effectively than they did last season when they lost every game to Celtic. This season Aberdeen have damaged them and they’ve got a big one when they come to Parkhead and that will be a defining game.

"But Celtic have won four titles in a row so there’s a core of players who know what it takes."

Billy Stark was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.