Celtic’s outgoing boss Ronny Deila has made a farewell plea to the Parkhead support as he urged them to show his successor a united front.
The Norwegian will say his goodbyes to the Parkhead faithful following Sunday’s Ladbrokes Premiership title party.
The 40-year-old is standing down after leading the Hoops to back-to-back championships but leaves behind a club at odds with their own supporters.
The Celtic faithful are unhappy with chief executive Peter Lawwell and the recent downsizing of the club’s spending ambitions.
But Deila insists it is important the fans put their differences to one side and give the man taking over his job the backing he will need to stave off the challenge coming next season from Rangers, Aberdeen and Hearts.
Asked what message he had for the supporters, Deila - speaking at his final pre-match press conference - said: “First I’d want to thank all the fans. It’s been two fantastic years and the relationship I had with them was very good.
“I wish them all the best in the future. This club is special and they need to understand how special it is and protect it, because everybody now wants to drag it down. They want us to lose.
“It’s important we have unity. The players, the staff, the new manager coming - they need time and support.
“If they do that people will grow and they will get the best out of them and there will be a lot more trophies here at Celtic.”
Deila, though, has just one final piece of silverware to hoist aloft at Celtic Park on Sunday when his side round off their campaign against Motherwell.
His failure to lead the Hoops into the Champions League badly undermined his tenure in Glasgow, with last month’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Rangers ultimately seeing him walk before he was pushed out the Parkhead exit.
But while the former Stromsgodset boss knows his reign will have divided opinions, he still insists he was right to take on the challenge in the first place.
“What you remember is the trophies in the end,” said the boss, who confirmed he will not hang about in Glasgow after making plans to fly back to Norway on Sunday evening. “They are what goes down in the history books.
“Some will think I was a great guy who did everything I could and had some success. Others will think I was a complete disaster and should have done better.
“But that’s why this is the greatest sport in the world. It’s full of opinions.
“Sunday will be a little bit sad but at the same time it is a good feeling. It is difficult to say what I’m feeling. I need time to reflect on what I have been through these last two years before I can really express what I feel.
“But it will be strange on Monday when I don’t have anything to go to.
“I haven’t had that for 20 years. I’ve been in this game for so long. I’ve never had the summers off so now is the first time.
“But I think the best thing is to have a little bit of time off now and to reflect what I’ve been through, recharge the batteries and then really get that hungry look again.
“However, if something very interesting comes along that feels right for me then of course it is possible to do it. But I have to have time to find the right one.
“It has to be something that excites me. It was like that when I came to Celtic. There was no thought in my head saying I could not do it. I will never regret that decision.”