IT was no great surprise when Leigh Griffiths was the first player Celtic put up to speak to the media this week in the wake of the announcement that Ronny Deila would be standing down come the end of the season.

Several members of the Parkhead squad have, contrary to what many would have you believe, progressed under Deila’s guidance; Callum McGregor, Tom Rogic and Kieran Tierney have all come on.

But nobody at the Glasgow club has responded to the Norwegian’s training and methods in the last two years quite like Griffiths.

He took a while to win round his new manager. He struggled in the first half of last season and was publicly criticised for his lack of fitness and a questionable dedication to his profession. But since taking those points on board he has blossomed.

The 25-year-old has, despite playing as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation which the majority of Celtic fans dislike, scored no fewer than 37 goals in all competitions to date in the 2015/16 campaign. It is an impressive return.

Griffiths was, then, the perfect man for the Scottish champions to produce to talk about Deila’s tenure and imminent departure. Good riddance to bad rubbish? Not as far as the striker is concerned.

“It’s been well documented that the first four months weren’t great,” he said. “But after that I’ve not really looked back. I’ve played some of the best football of my career.”

The Scotland internationalist accepted there would be certain individuals who would be pleased to see Deila go. However, he personally is determined for the coach who has been such an influence on him to bow out on a high by retaining the Premiership.

“It’s not been a good few days for the club,” said Griffiths. “Losing to Rangers in the Scottish Cup semi-final on Sunday was disappointing. Then the gaffer came in and said he’s leaving at the end of the season.

“But we need to look forward. We’ve still got five games to go to give him the perfect send off. As players we all know the response is to go and make sure he can go and lift that trophy in the last game of the season.

“It would be the fitting way to send him off. If we go and lift the title that would be three trophies in two years. Some might think of that as a failure but he’s got that on his CV.”

There are many instances of a team’s form suffering after it emerges during the course of a season that their manager will be moving on. It certainly happened when Walter Smith revealed he would be leaving Rangers. His team failed to win a record tenth successive Scottish title in 1998.

Griffiths, though, is confident Celtic can avoid that happening. “The big incentive is to go and get nine points in the next three games to go and secure the title,” he said. “Then we can go and have fun, the gaffer can have fun, everyone can have fun and we can look forward to title day.”

Griffiths failed to score against Rangers in the Scottish Cup semi-final last weekend. But his long—range free-kick attempt late on was tipped onto the crossbar by Wes Foderingham. The ball then bounced off the goalkeeper’s back and went out for a corner.

The lines between success and failure in football are fine. If that effort had gone in and Celtic had won the game then Deila may possibly have remained in place for another season. Griffiths admitted he was astonished it had stayed out.

“I went back and watched it again,” he said. “Nine times out of ten if the keeper gets a touch and it hits the bar, comes back and hits him in the back it ends up in the back of the net. That one chance out of a hundred hits him and goes wide for a corner. But I can’t speculate on just one chance. We had numerous chances on Sunday and didn’t do enough ultimately.”

Paul McStay, the former Celtic midfielder and captain, claimed this week that playing with one up front was not “the Celtic way”. A fair few concur and would like to see, at home in particular, a return to a traditional 4-4-2.

Griffiths, though, stressed he has been quite content to operate in the system Deila favours and predicted his replacement could very well use the same set-up.

“It’s always nice to have a partner up front,” he said. “But I have enjoyed being up there on my own with three in behind me. It’s entirely up to the new manager what formation he wants to play, who is going to play and what players will play.’

“It’s a common system now. Look at a lot of teams now and they don’t really play with two up front or two main strikers. They normally play with three in behind or one up top. The new manager will have his own philosophy on what formation he wants to play and who plays it.”

Griffiths always, as his strike rate proves, puts in a powerful shift when he takes to the field. The prospect of a new manager taking over will make no difference to his application in the final matches of what has been a difficult season.

“I think the next manager coming in will be well up to speed about what people can do,” he said. “He’ll have DVD’s of games. So I wouldn’t say we’re on trial. When the new gaffer is here in pre-season he’ll have his eye on it.”