STEVEN Pressley was a player at Celtic back in 2008 when irate fans turned on Gordon Strachan during a league defeat to Motherwell at Parkhead – and saw first hand how his manager recovered and went on to win his third consecutive Scottish title.

So Pressley can understand why the Glasgow club’s board have decided to stand by his old team mate Neil Lennon despite their dreadful run of results in recent weeks and the growing calls for the Northern Irishman to be replaced.

He is convinced that Lennon can halt his side’s alarming slump in form, silence his doubters and pip Rangers to the Premiership trophy come May if he is given time and backing.

The 1-0 loss to Motherwell that led to Strachan being targeted by angry supporters left Celtic trailing their city rivals, who had played two games less, by six points with just seven games of the 2007/08 season remaining.

However, they triumphed in all seven of their remaining matches, including two Old Firm derbies, and ended up winning their third consecutive Premier League by three points.

There were violent protests outside Parkhead on Sunday after Celtic, who have fallen 11 points behind Rangers in the Premiership and are unable to reach the last 32 of the Europa League, were knocked out of the Betfred Cup by struggling Ross County.

However, Pressley, who has managed at Hearts, Falkirk, Coventry City, Fleetwood Town and Carlisle United since retiring from playing, feels that Lennon, like his predecessor Strachan, deserves the chance to continue because of the success he has previously enjoyed in the role and is more than capable of delivering 10-In-A-Row.

“Neil should be allowed the opportunity to continue,” he said. “He has earned that right because of what he has done at Celtic. That is not to say it will go on indefinitely. But a lot of football people feel he should be kept on and believe the club has made the right call.

“If you look at what happens after there is a change of managers a club statistically, it shows you that, while you might get an slight upturn for a short period of time, generally there aren’t significant improvements. Longevity and stability are the key aspects in the studies which have been done on clubs that enjoy success.

“Look across the city. Steven Gerrard hasn’t won a trophy in two years. Credit to Rangers. They stood by him. The longevity of the manager there has created stability. They have seen huge improvements because of that. That is why think Celtic should hold fire and keep him. If there is no progress in two or three weeks then they can revisit it. But he deserves that chance.

“That is not to say that a manager doesn’t run his course at a club. It might be that that is the case with Neil. But, as I say, he deserves the opportunity to show he can turn it around after winning all four trophies his side has competed in since he was appointed.

“If I was him I would feel short-changed if I didn’t get the opportunity to manage my way through this. Listen, if there is no upturn in the coming weeks then they can reassess it. But they have to give him the chance. I saw during my own time at Celtic how giving the manager the opportunity can very much be rewarded. Fortunes can change very quickly.

“I see a lot of that attitude in the game just now. Just look at Sheffield United in England just now. Their manager Chris Wilder, like Neil Lennon at Celtic, has done a phenomenal job. They are going through a difficult period as well. But there are no calls for his head because there is an appreciation of what he has done.”

Pressley, who helped Celtic to win the Premier League and Scottish Cup double during his two years at Parkhead, believes the importance of completing 10-In-A-Row this term has been responsible for the extreme reaction to their poor run at home and abroad.

But the former Scotland centre half argued that his old club’s form in the Premiership in the 2020/21 season – they have lost just one of their 13 league games – hasn’t merited calls for the manager to be sacked.

“I accept that Celtic haven’t performed anywhere near the level they should this season,” he said. “But they have actually averaged 2.3 points per game in the league. When they won the league two years ago they averaged 2.28.

“The problem for them is they are always judged against the team on the other side of the city – and Rangers are performing at an exceptionally high level at this moment in time.

“Of course, Celtic’s performances haven’t been good Europe in particular has been a disappointment. But in the league they haven’t had a major drop off at all. Rangers have simply improved dramatically.”

Pressley added: “The problem with football nowadays in many respects is that you don’t truly find out if the manager is good or not. The sign of a good manager is to manage a club through difficult periods and retain the dressing room.

“The trouble in this sort of situation is that everybody has formed an opinion without being inside the club and fully understanding the feeling. There may well be a united dressing room. They may just be suffering from a lack of confidence at this moment in time.

“I think 10-In-A-Row is really playing a big part in this. The problem is that at Celtic and Rangers if you don’t win the league you’re considered a loser. As long as the club are seeing some sort of plan for improvement, for a way forward, they are right to continue with Neil."