A Visionary Coach with Midas Touch

Daily Mail (London), June 5, 2014 | Go to article overview

A Visionary Coach with Midas Touch


Byline: MICHAEL YOKHIN

RONNY DEILA looks to be an exceptionally well-suited candidate to succeed Neil Lennon. The 38-year-old Norwegian is experienced beyond his age, having spent almost six years at Stromsgodset, taking them from the brink of relegation in 2009 to title triumph in 2013.

He resembles Lennon in more ways than one -- a passionate and highly emotional coach, who lives and breathes football and puts emphasis on man-management, more than anything, in his work.

You might be familiar already with the hilarious incident back in 2009 when Deila promised to strip off in front of fans if Stromsgodset avoided the drop -- and was true to his word, strolling away in his underpants. It is his attitude that makes him so special -- he believes football is supposed to be a show.

'I would rather go down than play ugly football. It is boring to be destructive. We will always be aggressive and entertaining,' he vowed in an interview with Drammens Tidende newspaper five years ago. He has never changed that philosophy and Stromsgodset's progress over the years has been remarkable in the extreme.

Stromsgodset are a relatively small club in Norway. Their annual budget stood at 64 million NOK (PS6.4million) in 2013, as compared to 195 million NOK (PS19.4m) at Rosenborg and 100 million NOK (PS10m) at Molde, where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer won two titles before moving on to Cardiff City. Nevertheless, Deila's team have beaten off the competition to win their first title since 1970, and they did so playing attack-minded one-touch football, scoring 66 goals in 30 league games and reminding many of Borussia Dortmund style in the process.

In fact, Deila's approach can be compared to that of Dortmund's Jurgen Klopp. Both believe that psychological aspects are of huge importance and are very close to their players. Both constantly run on the touchline, feel part of the game and wildly celebrate goals. Both are the most charismatic coaches in their respective countries. Both were fairly average defenders during their playing career, Deila spending most of it at unfashionable Odd Grenland.

Both work in perfect harmony with senior management at their clubs, as Deila enjoys superb cooperation with sporting director Jostein Flo, formerly a Sheffield United striker. Together, they were able to cherrypick the best talent in the country at low price, including signing midfield dynamo Stefan Johansen from Bodo/ Glimt in the beginning of 2011. He was crowned Player of the Year in Norway in 2013, before being transferred to Celtic and completing a rare feat of celebrating two league titles in a matter of six months.

Stromsgodset players are full of self-confidence, especially in home matches. …

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