Never mind the b******* . . . Celtic are fit, says Grif­fiths

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEW LIND­SAY CHIEF FOOT­BALL WRITER

LEIGH GRIF­FITHS last night hit back at ac­cu­sa­tions the Celtic play­ers have con­trib­uted to the down­fall of Ronny Deila by fail­ing to fully em­brace his strict fit­ness regime.

Grif­fiths and his team-mates were se­verely crit­i­cised for not be­ing fit enough in the Wil­liam Hill Scot­tish Cup semi-fi­nal de­feat to Rangers at Ham­p­den on Sun­day.

The Park­head club lost 5-4 on penal­ties to their Old Firm ri­vals af­ter the game had fin­ished tied 2-2 af­ter 120 min­utes – a re­sult that led to Deila stand­ing down as man­ager.

There have been sug­ges­tions that many squad mem­bers have re­jected the diet and con­di­tion­ing pro­gramme the Nor­we­gian coach in­tro­duced. How­ever, Celtic’s lead­ing goalscorer, who has net­ted 37 times this sea­son, has dis­missed those claims.

“To say we’re not fit enough is b*****s in my opin­ion,” said Grif­fiths.

“Yes of course it’s us, out on the park try­ing to get re­sults and at times the re­sults haven’t been good enough.

“But we ran for 120 min­utes on Sun­day and at the end of games we’re still press­ing on when other teams are dead on their feet. That’s why we’ve got some late goals this sea­son.”

Grif­fiths has ad­mit­ted that some play­ers in the Celtic squad wouldn’t be too dis­traught to see Deila de­part at the end of the 2015/16 cam­paign.

“That’s part and par­cel of any dress­ing room,” he said. “Peo­ple will not be in favour, peo­ple will be in favour. With the new man­ager com­ing in now ev­ery­one has got a clean slate and it’s up to them to go and im­press.”

Neil Len­non, the for­mer Celtic man­ager who signed Grif­fiths from Wolves for £1m in 2014, ad­mit­ted this week he would wel­come the chance to speak to the Park­head board.

The Scot­land in­ter­na­tion­al­ist be­lieves the Ir­ish­man, who won three Scot­tish ti­tles, beat Barcelona and qual­i­fied for the knock­out stages of the Cham­pi­ons League dur­ing his time in charge, will be a strong con­tender for the vacancy.

How­ever, Roy Keane, Hen­rik Lars­son, Davie Moyes, Michael O’Neill, Brendan Rodgers, Alan Stubbs and oth­ers have all been linked with the job.

“Man­agers who are not in a job will be de­lighted to have their name as­so­ci­ated with this club,” said Grif­fiths.

“I think any man­ager be­ing linked with the Celtic job will be happy. The club is mas­sive. It is the big­gest club in Scot­land in my opin­ion and one of the big­gest in the world.

“We have a lot of fans and the man­ager com­ing in will want to turn this job around and make us a Cham­pi­ons League team again.”

He added: “Lenny has been as­so­ci­ated with Celtic one way or the other for the last 15 years. The fact he is not in a job now gives him a good chance.

“But there are other man­agers, big name man­agers out there out of work and look­ing for­ward to an in­ter­view.

“It’s en­tirely up to the board, who­ever they de­cide to bring in.

“There are man­agers who aren’t in a job right now lick­ing their lips at a chance of the Celtic job.”

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