RONNY DEILA faces the very real prospect of becoming the first Celtic manager to be sacked when top of the league after Aberdeen’s deserved win at Pittodrie ensured there would be a title race for the Ladbrokes Premiership with 14 games remaining.

Deila spoke of not panicking following the 2-1 defeat at Pittodrie but the reality is that Peter Lawwell and most certainly Dermot Desmond did not expect there to be a mere three point gap between their team and second place come February.

The fact another Treble bit the dust against Ross County on Sunday, plus the dreadful European campaign, hardly helps the Norwegian’s cause.

Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, said Celtic should always win the league “hands down” and Andy Walker, the former Celtic player, insisted on television that Deila should be sacked. Many Celtic supporters would agree.

“Of course it is important to be calm," said Deila. "Everyone can lose matches but we are still in charge. I know the players will fight to the bitter end to get the title to Celtic Park. I really believe we can do it. We have a lot of quality in the team. We look strong and we are going to be stronger.

“People have their different opinions but I’m confident I’m the man to do this. All big managers have problems at the start of their careers at different clubs. Just look at Alex Ferguson. You get through tough periods and then you are stronger.

“We are going to do this together. We are going to win this league, we are going to fight for the Scottish Cup and we are going to get stronger after this."

Deila may not be given much more time even if he finishes the season with the two trophies still available but again appeared confident that he was going to be about for a bit longer.

“You never know in football, but I feel there is good togetherness at Celtic,” he said. “I feel trust, good understanding and support with the staff and players. I know everybody has the same goals here and knows where we are going.

“I accept it is a bad situation. But the situation is also that we are top of the league by three points. Sometimes, the feeling is that it is relegation."

McInnes refused to talk of title challenges but did put one more shot across the Celtic bow after the game when he stated there should not even be a viable challenge.

“I believe my team can win games between now and the end of the season,” he said. “We set out to get a better points tally than we managed last year and I’ve said all along that even if we bettered that tally we’d still need Celtic to come back towards us.

“Celtic should win this league hand down, there is no doubt about that, with the vast difference in resources between them and everyone in the league.

“But it pleases me that we can at least put up some sort of fight. But let’s not kid ourselves - no-one in here would bet against Celtic winning the league.

“We’ll keep trying to do our bit and see where it takes us. They are still favourites. They are three points ahead of us with a far better goal difference which is as good as another point. They have a level of player that is capable of winning things.

"The current Celtic team has a lot of talent and a lot of good players. But I also believe my team has got that too. They might have 50 odd players but they can only play 11 at any given time. My 11 were ready for them tonight and hopefully my 11 are ready for St Johnstone on Saturday.”

Aberdeen have not won the league since 1985 and bar one or two skirmishes with Rangers in the early 1990s, this is just about their best chance in over 30 years.

On whether his players have the nerve to now go on and win the league, McInnes said: "I always think it’s very unfair on my players when people refer to that, I really do.

"We have handled a big occasion tonight and been very consistent for two and a half years. The amount of points we have put together deserves credit. None of you actually believe we can win it.

"My players demonstrated consistently enough now that when we bring a performance, have that intent and have our better players playing at a level we win more often than we don’t. This season with 14 games to go we just want to win as many as we can."

Leigh Griffiths, who misspoke when he said his team had a game in hand and that the title was in Celtic’s hands, admitted: “We should be doing a lot better, especially at the second goal. We shouldn’t be conceding a goal like that."

Asked about Deila and whether he retained the players' support, the club’s top scorer offered a less than ringing endorsement. ”We will back the manager until we are told otherwise,” said Griffiths.