NEIL Lennon last night insisted the Celtic squad remains united despite their disappointing run of results and expressed confidence he can both end their slump in form and survive as manager at Parkhead.

Lennon has been publicly critical of his players as they have fallen 11 points behind Rangers, who have played two games more, in the Premiership and seen their chances of progressing in the Europa League end after four games.

There have been renewed calls from disgruntled supporters for the 49-year-old to be sacked this week in the wake of the 4-1 defeat to Sparta Prague in the Czech Republic on Thursday night.

However, the Northern Irishman, whose team take on Ross County at Parkhead in the second round of the Betfred Cup this afternoon, believes his players remain firmly behind him and has backed them to recover and enjoy a successful season.

“I’ve no reason not to believe we won’t go on a run,” he said. “In the 20 years I’ve been here I’ve made a positive impact on the club whether that’s as a player or a manager. The group want success for the fans, for themselves and for me. We’re absolutely united.

“There was no ranting or raving on Thursday night. We were just talking coldly on how we can find solutions to this lack of confidence at the minute. They don’t become bad players because they’ve not won a few games and they don’t become brilliant players when they go on an unbelievable run. You have to keep a sense of perspective.

“This is a good team and I believe they can turn it around. I go back to perspective - we have lost one game in the league this year and if we didn't commit silly decision-making we'd be a lot better off. Anyway, we are where we are, we have a lot of work to do, but it's one that we are looking forward to and going to enjoy.

“We haven’t lost anything yet. We’ve lost out on progressing in Europe, but we haven’t lost out on the league or cups. We know the last few games have not been good enough for the standards and the demands of the club and supporters. There’s only one way you can go – you can feel sorry for yourself or you galvanise yourselves which is what we’re trying to do.”

Lennon believes the importance of the 2020/21 campaign – Celtic can make Scottish football history by becoming the first club ever to win 10 consecutive Scottish titles – has meant the fallout to the draws and defeats his team has suffered has been more extreme than usual.

The manager, who has won all four domestic trophies his side has been involved in since replacing Brendan Rodgers as manager in February last year and has a chance to complete a fourth consecutive treble in the Scottish Cup final against Hearts next month, confessed he has questioned whether he has the ability to turn the situation around.

However, the former midfielder has recalled how he bounced back from embarrassing losses and potentially costly slumps in his first spell in charge and is adamant he can weather the current storm and do so once again.

“I've been in this position before,” he said. “I think the hysteria and criticism is a lot worse this time round, I don't know why. Maybe it's just the expectation, the significance of the season.

“You look at what you believe in. You have to be honest with yourself and ask: 'Is this working? Are you good enough? Have you got the tactical nous?’. Now down the line, I’ve won plenty of trophies, I’ve won a promotion, I’ve had a really difficult time in six months at Bolton which is well worse than anything I’ve experienced here. Again it makes you more rounded and gives you a sense of perspective.

"I go back to my second season as manager. You can think about the Kilmarnock game (Celtic drew 3-3 at Rugby Park after trailing 3-0 at half-time) but even before that we had lost three games.

“The start we had was worse than this season, a lot worse. We had gone out of Europe and three of the first 10 games were draws as well and we were a long way behind. So you look at it. Are you doing the right things? Do you believe in the process of what you are doing and your philosophy and then we turned it around. That was a good team.”

Lennon’s future has dominated the back pages of newspapers, radio phone-ins, internet message boards and social media outlets in recent days. He has been through it all before both as a player and a manager and expected nothing less. He is simply focusing on improving his team’s displays and knows that if he can do so the clamour for his removal will die down.

"Nothing shocks me, nothing surprises you at times in football,” he said. “I don't expect to be cut any slack from anybody, I don't ask for it. A little bit more respect wouldn't go amiss, but that's on other people, that's not on me. I act in a professional, dignified manner, whether we win or lose. I don't expect to be given any plaudits, if and when we turn it around.

"I am pretty sane anyway, but it's something you learn as you go on and you always prepare yourself for eventualities - a bad run, losing a big game, losing a derby. You prepare yourself in case that happens. I've got a few coping mechanisms. The flip side is you don't get overboard when you win and you are successful. I have kept a calm view on things.

"Do I enjoy it? Yeah, I enjoy it all. I enjoy the good times. I don't enjoy the bad times as much and the criticism, but you take it and the challenge is to come through it and when you come out the other side you get a huge sense of satisfaction. At the minute, I have to get myself, the club and the players out the other side of this.”