Ronny Deila has pleaded for calm among the Celtic support amid increasing discontent over his management of the club after their lead at the top of the Premiership was cut to three points with a defeat against nearest challengers Aberdeen.
The Norwegian dismissed suggestions, led by former Celtic striker Andy Walker who was a TV analyst at Pittodrie last night, that he should be dismissed by the club’s board after a loss which came on the back of last Sunday’s League Cup semi-final defeat by Ross County.
Deila accepts that Aberdeen, who claimed a 2-1 win with goals from Jonny Hayes and Simon Church, are serious challengers for the title with 14 games of the campaign left. But he remains defiantly insistent Celtic will retain their crown.
“People have their different opinions but I’m confident I’m the man to do this,” said Deila. “All big managers have problems at the start of their careers at different clubs. Just look at Alex Ferguson. You get through tough periods and then you are stronger.
“We are going to do this together. We are going to win this league, we are going to fight for the Scottish Cup and we are going to get stronger after this.
“It is important to be calm. Everyone can lose matches but we are still in charge. I know the players and we will fight to the bitter end to get the title to Celtic Park.
“I really believe we can do it. We have a lot of quality in the team. We look strong and we are going to be stronger.
“I feel the pressure all the time. The goals are very clear – win the league. That’s what we are going to do.
“Aberdeen are good, you have to give them credit. It is not only about us being bad, they are good. But I believe we are the best team.
“I accept it is a bad situation at the moment. But the situation is also that we are still top of the league by three points. Sometimes, the feeling is that it is relegation.
“We need to stay together. The players need their support. That’s the message. We are one club and everyone is working towards the same thing. The supporters have their opinions but they backed the team during the game and I really appreciate that.
“I’m as disappointed as everyone else but I also know we still have a very good chance here. We just need to stay calm and work. In the end we will get our results. Aberdeen still have to come to Celtic Park, so that’s going to be an important game as well.”
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes savoured his team’s second Pittodrie victory over Celtic this season but continues to play down their prospects of bringing the title back to the north east of Scotland for the first time since Ferguson’s side won it in 1985.
“Celtic should win this league hands down,” said McInnes. “There is no doubt about that, with the vast difference in resources between them and everyone else in the league. But it pleases me that we can at least put up some sort of a fight.
“Let’s not kid ourselves – no-one would bet against Celtic winning the league.
“They are still favourites, three points ahead of us with a far better goal difference which is as good as another point. We’ll just keep trying to do our bit and see where it takes us. I believe my team can win games between now and the end of the season. Tonight’s win was no more than we deserved.”