Celtic pair Ronny Deila and Scott Brown vindicated at Hampden

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland at Hampden
Ronny Deila (left) and Scott Brown are both fan favourites.
Manager Ronny Deila and skipper Scott Brown are both fan favourites

The triumph at Hampden belonged to the entire Celtic team, because the was a hard-fought and professional display rather than a sweeping aside of Dundee United.

The doggedness was rewarding for the side, but the emotional acclaim was reserved for two individuals.

In volume and intensity, the moments of cheerleading for Scott Brown and Ronny Deila were heartfelt expressions of their status amongst the fans.

Interview: Celtic manager Ronny Deila

For different reasons, the two men have become figureheads.

A chant often reverberated around Hampden during the warm-up. "Broony, Broony," was a response to the booing that the Dundee United fans launched at the Celtic captain, but also a reminder that his own supporters will dismiss flaws in a player whose performances on the field seldom dip below being fiercely committed.

Brown would have admonished himself for being caught by a newspaper photographer last week slumped on the pavement and eating fast food, even if he would also have felt that it was an intrusion into a private night out.

He was not training the following day, and his performance at Hampden was typically, almost defiantly robust.

There were few examples of touch or guile - and Brown is capable of both - but Celtic were not at their eviscerating best. Dundee United sought to be defensively resilient, and so their opponents had to rely on persistence more than inspiration.

Even so, as Brown rubbed his stomach in front of the gleeful Celtic fans afterwards, then strutted round the perimeter of the pitch to their endless applause, he looked a player who felt vindicated.

Scott brown remains a firm favourite with the Celtic supporters.
Scott brown remains a firm favourite with the Celtic supporters

It forever seems a flaw in the Scottish psyche to laud excessive drinking, particularly when at the elite level football is now a sport governed by the leading sport science practices and theories.

Brown brushed aside any criticisms with his display - full of industry and hard, combative running - but there was never any likelihood of castigation from his own fans.

The Celtic support idolise Brown, and on the field it has just been occasional flashes of recklessness or overly aggressive play that have undermined that backing.

Only the chants for Deila could compete. One rang out while the score was still 0-0 and United were stifling the best of Celtic's attacking players. The sense then was of a manager who has already made a significant emotional connection with his club's fans.

Interviews: Stefan Johansen and Kris Commons

It would have survived a loss in the final, since Deila's work has looked increasingly effective, but winning the first trophy of the season, and the first of his reign, brings reassurance to the supporters and a belief that their faith was justified.

Deila rouses the fans as he leads them in their cheering after games. His intensity, and the joy that is as evident as it is natural when he celebrates, endears him to fans, who want their football occasions to be thrilling and exciting, but also meaningful.

The Norwegian has taken command of the situation he faced at Celtic Park, even if there is much work still to be carried out if he is to win the domestic treble that he has set as the ambition for this first campaign in Glasgow.

It will have satisfied him that his side could solve the problems of this game - United had six defensive players and two hard-working midfielders lining up behind Ryan Dow and Mario Bilate - without even nearly reaching the limits of their capabilities.

Incidents mounted up in the game, but it was

There might also have been some self-admonishment, because Celtic made the breakthrough while the United manager was, with increasing frustration, waiting for Sean Dillon to return to the field after treatment to a shin gash. Substituting the player could have altered the circumstances of the game.

It was Dillon, after all, who was dismissed in the second half, and there was little that United could complain about when the defender made a dangerous tackle on Emilio Izaguirre near the halfway line.

McNamara and his players would have felt more irked at the way Bobby Madden deliberated for so long before eventually deciding that Dow did not deserve a penalty when he fell under the challenge of Brown in the first half.

The Celtic captain shaped to go shoulder to shoulder with the United attacker, only to find himself placing his arm on the player's back, but the contact seemed too minimal to constitute a foul.

The United players were grim-faced as they collected their losers' medals. Reaching two consecutive cup finals is a fine achievement, but losing them both, to St Johnstone and Celtic, will cut deeper.

Jackie McNamara's Dundee United have suffered painful defeats in back-to-back cup finals.
Jackie McNamara's Dundee United have suffered painful defeats in back-to-back cup finals

Celtic are a team that is growing, in composure, in worth, in ambition. Deila has quelled any scepticism, and the wonder now is what a side that is full of the kind of personnel he wishes to have at his disposal would be capable of.

There was a flashpoint of sorts towards the end, when James Forrest refused pleas to allow John Guidetti to take the penalty that the winger had won.

Forrest missed the spot kick, and it was clear that resentment lingered in Guidetti when he left the celebrations early and headed up the tunnel. Management demands an element of versatility, and Delia coped with the Brown issue and will need to do the same with Guidetti and Forrest, two players that have become peripheral in recent months.

This was a moment of glory for the manager and his players, though. It rained a cloud of green and white confetti as the players celebrated with the trophy and the fans sang their songs.

Still, though, Brown and Deila were singled out. The latter, in particular, has a personality that can cope with the demands and expectations of the job he took on last summer.

Celtic, under Deila, are progressing with impressive purpose.

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