Ronny Deila played down the significance of a post-match visit to the Celtic dressing room by the club’s chief executive Peter Lawwell on an afternoon of discord and protest for the Scottish champions and insisted he has no intention of accelerating his departure as manager.
Lawwell, who, along with major shareholder Dermot Desmond, had been the subject of criticism in the form of a giant banner displayed by fans before kick-off, made his way into the home dressing room after Deila’s team had toiled to a 1-1 draw against Ross County.
There have been things beyond football this week and of course that affected the players a little bitRonny Deila
It leaves Celtic nine points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the Premiership with four games of the campaign remaining.
Their vastly superior goal difference over the Dons means they can effectively wrap up the club’s fifth successive title with a victory against Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday.
But the mood of the Celtic support remains mutinous in the wake of the Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Rangers which preceded last week’s announcement that Deila will step down as manager at the end of the season. The Norwegian, who felt the atmosphere around the club had a detrimental effect on his players yesterday, stressed that Lawwell’s appearance in the dressing room was not related to his own position.
“He spoke to me, not the players,” said Deila. “But we talk together all the time. It’s nothing new. It’s not like I’m going to quit tomorrow. I’m going to stay here until the end of the season and do everything to get over the line and perform better than we did today. I didn’t see the banners before the game. But as I’ve said before, this club is a special place. There are enormous demands here.
“To be a team which has been in European finals and then see the way it is now – it’s a different time.
“There are always going to be disagreements. But it is important when we play games that we stay together.
“But I understand there are different opinions about things.
“It’s not helping, I can assure you of that. You can see it in some of the confidence of the boys. But this is the circumstances right now and I can understand the fans. Of course it doesn’t help them.
“A lot happened this week. It’s about more than just what is going on on the park. It’s not easy to play under, but it’s something we have to deal with.
“I worried before the game about this, but you always do that. There have been a lot of other things beyond football this week and of course that affected the players a little bit.
“Now we are three points away and nine points ahead and you see, also, that Aberdeen lost at the weekend as well.
“It’s not easy to just go out and beat every team and just win. A lot of people are starting to get more tired, but now we have to stick together, work hard and have fun in the last four games.
“We need to get the best out of each other and then hope we have the quality to get over the line in a good way.”