Neil Lennon has vowed to battle on as Celtic manager despite another crippling blow to ten-in-a-row.
The beleagured Parkhead boss is fighting for his job after a 1-1 home draw with St Johnstone extended his side’s dismal run to two wins in 12 games and allowed Rangers to stretch their lead at the top of the table to 13 points.
A leveller from substitute Mohammed Elyounoussi seven minutes from time denied St Johnstone their first Parkhead win in five years.
It was another day to forget for Celtic’s Neil Lennon on Sunday as they drew with St Johnstone
The 1-1 draw leaves the defending champions 13 points behind leaders and rivals Rangers
Despite admitting his side have now made it almost impossible to peg Steven Gerrard’s side back, Lennon hopes Celtic directors continue to resist the clamour amongst fans for Celtic to sack him.
Asked if the latest title set-back was likely to change his position after the reprieve which followed last weekend’s Betfred Cup exit to Ross County he said: ‘I don’t think so. I don’t want it to change either. I want to keep working.
‘I have got good people behind me. I just need to get the players back to the levels that they’re capable of.
‘If there is going to be a change then so be it, but I’ll not stop working to try and get it right.’
‘I don’t want to pre-empt anything. I want to keep working to try and turn it around. We need a bit of swagger back in the team. It is missing at the minute.
‘Some players aren’t fit enough and that has been the case for a long time. Some players are just not in good form. They need some respite at some stage and they need some support from me.
‘But, again, it is a two way thing. The players have got to play better. We have tried everything we can to get the performances right.’
Celtic’s only league victory since beating St Johnstone in Perth on October 4 is a 4-1 win over Motherwell last month.
Addressing a run of two wins, six defeats and four draws Lennon admitted: ‘It is not great. It is what it is.’
The angry protests which followed the defeat to Ross County were absent on Sunday after a heavy police presence threw a ring of steel around Celtic Park.
With even rank and file supporters now urging the board of directors to finally make a change, however, Lennon said: ‘I understand their frustrations. When we are not playing well, and not getting results. But there are ways and means, and some fans are more irate than others.
‘But right now I agree with them that our performances don’t equal the quality that we have, and if that falls on me then so be it.
‘We thought we had the atmosphere right. They are just playing within themselves a little bit. I don’t know why because there is nobody here. There is no reason to get antsy or tentative.
‘We want the players to be positive. But there is something missing, that little break or that little bit of magic. We are just not playing with that real drive and oomf. We are lacking that at the minute in a lot of our play.’
Lennon is under increasing pressure at Celtic and is clinging to his job after the latest result
Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard was unable to help his side to what would have been a crucial win
With no obvious, viable alternatives to take over Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell appealed to supporters to unify behind the team amidst hopes a favourable run of home games against County, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock might turn things around.
With a dead rubber Europa League tie against Lille next up on Thursday, however, Lennon admits the league title is now heading the same way as the club’s participation in Europe and the Betfred Cup.
‘Listen, we need to be realistic. I wouldn’t say it’s over, but we are making it more difficult for ourselves.
‘We tried to change it at half-time, to get a bit more urgency in our play. And that’s what’s missing: a lack of urgency, a lack of penetration, and not working their goalkeeper enough.
‘We had some good chances, but we need one of them to go in. Odsonne was in, Jullien had a header, but we are not creating enough chances. It is all a bit pedestrian for my liking.
‘There is a lack of verve: we need more personality, more excitement in our play. Maybe sometimes you get that generated by the atmosphere, but we don’t have that just now.
‘They’ve got that in them – look at the start they made on Thursday in Milan. But at the minute they are not playing anywhere near as well as they can.
‘It is hugely concerning and I am not going to shy away from that. It is hugely concerning that we can’t keep a clean sheet, when we looked very comfortable in the game. We let people run in behind us and it’s not good enough.
‘And it’s not good enough in the final third – we are taking far too long to work defences. It is not like us at all.
Rivals Rangers, meanwhile, ran out 4-0 winners against Ross County on Sunday
Manager Steven Gerrard celebrates with striker Jermain Defoe after the final whistle
‘I don’t want to be critical of the players, but we are missing that spark, that fluency.
‘I don’t doubt, because I know these players, and there is a definite lack of confidence there. They have a lack of confidence in themselves, and also a lack of confidence in each other. So they have to get that back.
‘They proved they can do that last year, but this year so far it has been a struggle. It might be a lack of attitude or a lack of desire, but there are bits and pieces that I see that I can’t really change overnight.
‘As far as the season goes, we are making it very, very difficult for ourselves to get back into it.