NEIL Lennon has repeated his threat to resign if he feels unwanted by the majority of Celtic supporters, and called on fans to show more patience when the team is struggling.
There is no real prospect of Lennon feeling so unloved that he hands in his notice, but the manager, talking ahead of tonight's Clydesdale Bank Premier League game against Hearts, said he had a difference of opinion with some fans about how they react when points are dropped.
Lennon exchanged angry words with some supporters around his dug-out as Inverness Caledonian Thistle won at Parkhead on Saturday, and after the match he threatened to resign if he felt it was what most fans wanted.
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"I am fine, I was a difference of opinion, it was no big deal," he said yesterday before showing solidarity with his team. "I just think a little bit of patience is needed sometimes. If fans are not happy and there's a groundswell of opinion that I'm not doing my job properly, then I would rethink my position. That has never changed since day one.
"I'd like to think the majority of fans are with me but there is a lack of patience sometimes at home. All clubs have it. Arsene Wenger's been getting it at Arsenal. Other clubs go through the same thing. We have set a good bar for ourselves, so there is dissent and I understand that.
"But they [the fans] have to see it from our point of view as well. What I said about quitting was in the heat of the moment. I am tucked into the job now and I want to see it through. It makes me more determined than ever.
"I've seen it all before and I've been in a lot worse position than this. It wasn't me that was getting stick at the weekend, it was the team, but you take it to heart sometimes because it is your team out there. Real Madrid were beaten at the weekend and they're 11 points behind Barcelona so there are better managers than me on a sticky wicket just now."
Lennon recalled moments in his playing career when his relationship with Celtic fans became strained. "I remember throwing a bottle – not at a guy, but in the general direction of a guy who was moaning at us after we had been in the San Siro and had lost in the last 16 of the Champions League. We were 19 points clear in the league under Gordon Strachan and lost to an Ugo Ehiogu goal against Rangers. We were only 16 points clear then. Sometimes you can't please them all. There is never a middle ground in Scotland. Maybe there should be sometimes.
"I understand the fans' reactions. One point out of nine at home is not good enough, so I sympathise with them. But they have to sympathise with us sometimes, too. It's not that the players are not trying to win the game or that they are lackadaisical or lazy.
"I think the players appreciate that I was sticking up for them. I'm sure that I will get a reaction out of them like I've always done."