Neil Lennon refused to quit as Celtic manager on Sunday night despite the anger of fans spilling over.
The Parkhead boss faces crunch talks over his future this morning after a 2-0 home defeat to Ross County saw the SPFL champions knocked out of the Betfred Cup.
Goals from Ross Stewart and Alex Iacovitti ended a 35-game unbeaten run in domestic cup competitions and earned the Dingwall side a place in the last eight.
Neil Lennon refused to quit as Celtic manager on Sunday despite the anger of fans spilling over
An angry mob of around 200 Celtic supporters came to demonstrate their fury at Parkhead
A small group of masked fans tried to break through a police cordon to reach the players
After the game ugly scenes broke out when a mob of around 200 supporters ignored coronavirus restrictions to gather outside the main stand.
Online images showed some a small band of masked fans trying to smash a police cordon to reach the players as they left the stadium.
As supporters chanted for his dismissal outside, a defiant Lennon claimed he could still turn around a dismal run of two wins in 10 games and insisted it was too soon for talk of the sack.
Celtic directors were last night considering their position amid expectations they will act today.
‘I’m not going to answer any hypothetical questions,’ said Lennon. ‘But it’s too soon for that. We’ve lost one trophy, that’s gone. Our priority, as we know, is the league – it always is every time we go into a new season.
Celtic boss Neil Lennon’s side lost 2-0 at home to Scottish Premiership strugglers Ross County
Perennial Scottish success story Celtic have now only won two of their last 10 games in total
‘We are out of Europe and it’s not been great but there is plenty of time to turn it around. But it’s alright me saying that, we have to show it with action now. And I should get more time at it – but if not then so be it.’
Granted more time to turn things around in the belief home games with Ross County, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock could spark a player reaction, yesterday’s defeat looks sure to be the final straw for directors under pressure to act.
Lennon has made it clear he won’t resign. Due a year’s money if he leaves, he discussed his situation with major shareholder Dermot Desmond and Chief Executive Peter Lawwell on Friday.
Eleven points behind Rangers in the league Parkhead powerbrokers are short of viable alternatives, but may now feel they have to make a change to keep any hope of 10-in-a-row alive.
Facing the music afterwards, Lennon added: ‘Do I see myself as the man to lead the team? Of course, I believe in myself. I am not always going to harp on about what I have done in the past.
Despite playing a strong team, Celtic’s forwards were unable to breach the County defence
‘We are in the present and I know the expectations from the supporters and the board for the club. I am falling short of that at the minute, me and my backroom team.
‘It’s okay saying, ‘We are going to turn a corner’. There is no point talking about it – we need to do it with our actions and soon.
‘Otherwise the landscape could change for me very quickly.
Asked if he expected the board to vow to pressure to make a change he shrugged: ‘I can’t answer that. But I spoke to Dermot and Peter on Friday and we want to find solutions to the problems we are having. On the evidence of today, we are still having those problems.
Former Nottingham Forest defender Alex Iacovitti (left) scored a late goal to seal the victory
‘I can’t say what decisions the board may or may not make. I know it isn’t good enough at the minute and I am not going to sit here like a happy clapper and say ‘Everything is positive, we can turn things around’.
‘We know we need to work hard to do that. We had a really good meeting on Saturday, it was powerful and a lot of good stuff came out of it.
‘There was a good ambience and atmosphere coming into the game but we just aren’t making it happen at the moment.’
Despite their awful form Celtic could extend their run of consecutive trophies to 12 if they win the Scottish Cup Final against Hearts on December 20.
Insisting he deserves a chance to keep going and turn things around he added: ‘I hope I’m here to turn things around because that’s what I want to do as quickly as possible, but obviously the results don’t help those chances.’
Asked what he would say to the supporters yelling ‘Lennon, Lennon, get to f***’ the Northern Irishman conceded the battle for hearts and minds had now been lost. Despite eleven straight trophies the defeat to County had the feel of the final straw.
‘What can I say? That’s their opinion and it’s been rumbling for a while.
‘It doesn’t matter what I say or what bravado I put on because it won’t wash – I have to turn it round with results.’