John Collins has no doubt Celtic will retain manager Ronny Deila, irrespective of the outcome of their two remaining Europa League Group A fixtures.
Deila attracted fresh criticism last week when Celtic slumped to a 2-1 home defeat by Molde which left them at the bottom of their group.
The Scottish champions must now take maximum points from their final fixtures, at home to Ajax on 26 November and away to Fenerbahce in Istanbul on 10 December, in order to salvage a place in the last 32 of the tournament.
Deila’s poor record in Europe since his appointment 18 months ago has raised serious doubts over his credibility in the job.
Bookmakers Paddy Power yesterday shortened the odds on David Moyes as Celtic’s next permanent manager to just 2-1 following his sacking by Real Sociedad. Former Everton and Manchester United boss Moyes has admitted his ambition to one day manage Celtic, where he began his playing career. But Deila’s assistant Collins has leapt to Deila’s defence and insists the pair have no intention of compromising their shared football philosophy in any attempt to improve Celtic’s results against continental opponents.
“I think [criticism of Ronny] is unfair, of course, because when he gets criticised, I get criticised, because we’re a team,” said Collins.
“But we understand the expectations from everybody, that we have to do well in Europe, win every game in Scotland, score five goals every week and concede none.
“ So we take the criticism, try to turn it into a positive and drive us forward. Ultimately you are always judged on your results in the long term but, along the way, you would like to think you’ll be judged on the performances.
“I’m sure the club will stick by the manager. They’ve done it in the past, they are not known as a club that hires and fires coaches.
“I don’t think that’s the way forward. We believe we’re on the right track and there are always bumps along the way. When you come to the setbacks and obstacles, you’ve got to keep believing in what you’re doing. As long as everyone sticks together, we think we’ll get where we want to go. It takes time.
“The coaching team watches re-runs of games and the goals we conceded, constantly trying to get better. But we have got the way we want to play. We might slightly vary it in certain matches, but we are not going to go five at the back, four in midfield, one up front and kick the ball up the pitch.
“Of course our approach can get us into the Champions League next year – definitely. But we have to get better at what we do.
“I don’t think Europe is twice as quick as Scottish football but it is more challenging. You are up against teams who are top of their domestic leagues or have won their domestic leagues. So it’s harder to do it, but that’s the challenge. We have got to get better at it. I think we are and I think we will.”
Asked if he believed Celtic are capable of beating both Ajax and Fenerbahce, Collins struck an equally bullish tone.
“I’m confident we will give it every single bit of energy and everything we’ve got to try to achieve it,” he said. “We will never give in right until the final whistle in both games, I can guarantee that.”