Celtic manager Ronny Deila insists his players are starting to understand what he expects from them following their 6-1 rout of Dundee United at Celtic Park. The Norwegian boss, who arrived from Stromsgodset in the summer, had asked for more energy and urgency from his side following flat performances in their Champions League qualifiers against Legia Warsaw and their opening 3-0 league win over St Johnstone in midweek.
The 38-year-old's calls were emphatically answered on his Celtic Park debut as his side moved one point behind Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the top of the Scottish Premiership, having played a game fewer, with a clinical performance.
United arrived in Glasgow undefeated but any hopes they harboured of a first win at Celtic Park since December 1992 were dealt an early blow with first half goals from debutant Jason Denayer, Kris Commons and Stefan Johansen. Antony Stokes scored direct from a 54th minute free-kick and Jo Inge Berget scored a double either side of a Jon Rankin consolation strike.
"I'm into performances and that's what it's all about for me," said Celtic manager Deila. "Today was a very good performance from the players and the pressing, transition and passing was much better and quicker.
"It looks like the players now understand what they've got to do so it was a good feeling for me and I think the fans enjoyed it, which was important. We created a lot of things and kept the ball well and also our set-plays were better. We had focussed on that and I think we got three goals from set-plays so I am happy and proud today."
More to come
Despite the comprehensive nature of their win, Deila says there is still room for improvement. "We win together and we lose together but we still need to work on our performances," the Celtic boss added. "If we have good performances we know we have the best players in this league. We showed today that we have a very good team and there is a lot of good quality.
"We showed we were the better team and we played well and could have scored more but I think we can go like that for 90 minutes instead of 60 and that is something we have to work on as well. We have to use every minute on the pitch to get better and the last 10 or 15 minutes we were a little bit sleepy but I can understand that."
Celtic now travel to Slovenia to take on NK Maribor in their UEFA Champions League play-off first leg match on Wednesday. The Hoops were restored to the competition after Legia Warsaw, who had defeated the Scottish champions 6-1 on aggregate, were thrown out for fielding an ineligible player in the second leg of their third round qualifying round match.
However, the Polish side have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to have their expulsion over-turned with a decision expected Monday. Celtic may have to do without James Forrest and Adam Matthews for the match in Slovenia. Right-back Matthews was injured in the warm-up for the United match while Forrest limped off with a hamstring injury.
Elsewhere in the Scottish Premiership, Inverness moved top with a 2-0 win away to Motherwell, promoted Hamilton's good start continued with a 1-0 home defeat of St Johnstone, Dundee drew 1-1 with Partick Thistle and Ross County stay bottom following a 2-1 loss to Kilmarnock.