IN the often stormy waters that Neil Lennon has to navigate as Celtic manager, from the success of trophy wins to the failure to reach the Champions League and everything in between, there is one constant that he can rely on – the unstinting backing of the man at the top.

The relationship between the majority shareholder and the manager at Celtic may be unusual in its closeness, but Lennon regards the input of Dermot Desmond as an invaluable source of strength in the bad times, and a huge driver towards making sure the good times always outweigh them.

Over and above their friendship though, Lennon believes that Desmond’s overall contribution to Celtic is what will be remembered long after both men have gone.

“He’s been so good to me, and for me,” said Lennon.

“We do talk on a regular basis, so he’s got his finger on the pulse of the club and the team.

“We talk at length the day before a game or we analyse the game now and again.

“He made it clear and we didn’t shy away from it, that he didn’t think the performance against Ross County was good. If you are open and honest with Dermot and straight, you get rewarded for that.

“He’s a very intelligent man and he’s done unbelievable things for the club.

“If you have him as a support or an ear then it gives you a lot of comfort, particularly in a heavily pressurised job like this.

“Listen, he’s a massive Celtic fan, first and foremost. He has just transformed the image and reputation of the club alongside the people he has hired in the top positions of the club.

“What he has done has been magnificent and he loves the club, he loves the players and he loves going to the games whenever he can.

“He was in Rome last year to see us win there and the League Cup Final. He’s a huge Celtic fan and just wants what is best for the club.

“He’s constantly evolving the club in what he sees the club being in five, or 10 or 15 years time. If and when he does leave at whatever stage he wants to, his legacy will forever be enshrined in the club’s history.”

It is rare for managers on the whole to welcome any sort of meddling in their affairs from above, but the trust between Lennon and Desmond is such that the Celtic boss welcomes any input from the businessman that can help him improve his team.

“It’s been forged over a long time,” he said. “I’ve been at the club 20 years, I was manager here for four years in my first period and now I’m into my third season.

“It’s not as if there’s a comfort there, he keeps you on your toes. He likes high standards and he likes high standards of performance from the players and staff here.

“He doesn’t make unrealistic demands of you or unrealistic expectations.

“If you go through a bad period he’s the first one to pick up the phone and talk to you and support you, and likewise, when we have great results he’s there to congratulate you.

“If there’s something that he’s not happy with then we talk it through and look to improve on it.”

One area where they may disagree though is on their opinions of the team that Lennon played in versus the team that Lennon manages, with Desmond believing the class of 2020 to be superior to the side that went all the way to the UEFA Cup Final back in 2003.

“It’s all about people’s opinions,” he said. “I love the team I played in and I love this team.

“Our team did some really great things and this team has done some great things. We want them to continue in the same vein.

“They have won the last 11 domestic trophies and had a really good Europa League run last season, but in terms of what they achieved over the past three or four years, it is absolutely amazing.

“It is difficult to make comparisons. I think it would be a 2-2 draw myself.”

On more pressing business, Celtic welcome Livingston today with the aim of going to the top of the Premiership standings, at least until Rangers play against Hibernian on Sunday. That incentive is a big one for Lennon and his players though.

“We’re looking forward to playing at home again,” Lennon said.

“It’s been a good week so far with two really good results away from home.

“We know what the incentive is, and also we’re trying to find the level of performance that pleases us, so we’re very much looking forward to the game.

“[We’re] not a million miles away. There was a lot of good things out of the game on Wednesday night [against St Mirren] in terms of our pressure and possession.

“Our pressing was very good, a lot better than it was at the weekend, so there was a vast improvement in that and in our control of the game.

“We had chances to go three or four up, we didn’t take them and that would have given a better reflection on the scoreline from the performance.

“But it was a very important three points utilising the game in hand to get the win and get another 90 minutes under the belt.”