Trust and love are two key components of any successful relationship. It’s fair to say there isn’t much of either being directed towards Ronny Deila by Celtic supporters at the moment.
But, when it comes to the relationship which matters most of all in determining Deila’s job security at the Scottish champions, he insists the bonds which tie him to Celtic’s senior management figures Peter Lawwell and Dermot Desmond are as strong as ever.
Wednesday night’s 2-1 defeat at Pittodrie, on the back of Sunday’s League Cup semi-final exit against Ross County, prompted gleeful Aberdeen fans to taunt Deila with chants of “You’re getting sacked in the morning”.
But the Norwegian was still there to make his afternoon appointment with the media at Lennoxtown yesterday, as positive as ever he remains the right man to take Celtic forward.
Deila’s self-assurance is buoyed by the backing he says he continues to receive from Celtic’s chief executive Lawwell and principal shareholder Desmond, the men who plucked him from relative obscurity at Stromsgodset to succeed Neil Lennon as manager in June 2014.
“Everybody needs to feel trusted and loved,” said Deila during a typically frank and expansive session with reporters.
“Every person needs that. That’s what the best organisations are doing right now. Peter has lots of experience and he provides safety for a manager. He is understanding of my situation all the time.
“He knows Celtic because he has been here so many years. He is very experienced and is a very strong and intelligent man. We are honest with each other and that’s what is important. That is a positive.
“It’s so important that the board and everybody are working together. If there are going be conflicts, then it’s harder to believe in what you are doing and stay on the right track.
“I have talked with Peter since Wednesday night. I also speak with Dermot often. He is an intelligent man as well, he knows what business is about and how football works. We have conversations to understand what page we are on – how I am thinking, how he is thinking. That has been good between us all the time.”
Deila, however, appreciates that Celtic fans are currently finding it difficult to share his own conviction that the team on the pitch are making the kind of progress expected of them.
“Of course, that’s normal,” he added. “That’s what it is to be a supporter. When things are not going good, you have doubts.
“But it’s so important supporters back the team. I know they will do that. When the game starts they stand behind the team. After the game there are people unsatisfied, we are the same. I have no problem with that.”
By Celtic’s standards, suffering back-to-back domestic defeats is perceived by many as constituting something of a mini-crisis.
This is the first time it has happened on Deila’s watch – his only previous consecutive losses have included European games – but he is confident he can draw on past experience to set Celtic back on the kind of winning run supporters will demand of them in the remaining three months of the season.
“I have been here many times,” he said. “I lost six games in a row in my first year as a coach at Stromsgodset. That was a hard time. It was also an important learning curve. The worst thing you can do in hard times is to think you yourself know everything. When you don’t trust anyone else, then you get into big trouble.
“We are a team, we have to stay together, work and talk together. We need to put demands on each other but in a positive way. That is how you change the results. What I have done – and this is something you have to give me credit for – is that I have turned things around before.
“This is the first time I have lost two [domestic] games in a row, as long as I have been at Celtic. So I have done well to turn things around because I know how to do it. It is challenging when the pressure outside is as big as it is now, so that is why it is so important to stick together as a group.
“Earlier in my career, I was way too hard on everyone during a bad run and it just gets worse and worse. Then it looks like nobody cares and they get very passive. I then started to understand what was going on and that I had to believe in the players and build on the positive things. That is when it turns around again. That is how you turn bad times into good times.
“Leadership is about being calm, especially in this type of situation. I don’t want to lose my head and be angry, it doesn’t solve anything. You have to be respectful of people and talk honestly and I’ll continue to do that.
“But it’s hard to answer the same questions every three days when we talk about progress. I’m not a magician, I need a little more time. The same answer will be there about my job in three days time as well. You need to be patient as well but I understand the circumstances. I have to see it from the bigger perspective. You don’t die of it, this is football – though it feels like it sometimes.”