Football: Dalglish asks Celtic fans to be patient

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The Independent Online
KENNY DALGLISH has urged the Celtic fans to give himself and John Barnes, the head coach, more time to turn the club around and make their Parkhead revolution a reality.

The much-vaunted partnership joined Celtic in the summer but Sunday's Old Firm defeat to Rangers at Ibrox followed elimination from the Uefa Cup against Lyon and a dismal home league defeat to a Motherwell side reduced to 10 men before half-time. Those results have prompted criticism of Barnes' tactics and the contribution of Dalglish, who is the club's Director of Football.

Now Dalglish, through Celtic's official club newspaper, Celtic View, has defended Barnes and has asked the disgruntled fans to be patient. "I don't think it's the right time for a knee-jerk reaction. There is no one on the football staff who doesn't feel as disappointed as the fans do," Dalglish said.

"I think people ought to remember what we said at the outset - it's not a here today, gone tomorrow thing. Success is not going to be there at the turn of a key. Eventually the fans will have what they want to see. There is no point in feeling sorry for ourselves, we just have to roll our sleeves up and work even harder."

When asked if he felt he was putting enough time and energy into his new post, Dalglish was quick to stress how hard he is personally working to put Celtic on track. "One thing that's guaranteed is the amount of time I've spent doing this job is as great as anybody in their job or profession, and more than most. If we fail in this job then it will certainly not be because we have not put in the hours, I can promise that," he said.

"The only thing we have lost so far is the Uefa Cup. Who says we have lost the league, the CIS Cup or the Scottish Cup? Nothing is decided in November. There's no way we're going to show anything other than commitment, just as the fans show towards us."

Dalglish has been angered by the criticism directed at his appointment of Barnes whose rigid 4-2-2-2 formation has led several observers to query whether he has the experience for the task. Dalglish added: "If anyone can guarantee a system that's going to work in every game and every minute of every match, then we'll do it. The players are 100 per cent committed and everyone is in it together. John is new to the job, but that doesn't mean he cannot do the job. I've seen him handle the players, I've seen him talk to them. You speak to any of them and they'll tell you the dressing room spirit is great."

n Walter Smith returns to Scotland tonight when his Everton side play Kilmarnock in Ally Mitchell's testimonial. Mitchell, who signed for pounds 100,000 from East Fife in 1991, is a big favourite with the Killie fans having made over 300 appearances, scoring 42 goals.