LEIGH GRIFFITHS insists Neil Lennon is STILL the man to lead Celtic.
And the Scotland international striker has told angry Hoops fans to lay off the manager and chief executive Peter Lawwell.
Frustrated followers are demanding changes from top to bottom at Parkhead after a season that had promised so much in the summer tumbled into the campaign from hell with the dream of a cherished and historic tenth successive title seemingly well out of sight before January is over.
The champions are 23 points adrift in the faltering pursuit of the crown that has been in their proud possession for the past nine years, Europe is a mere memory after embarrassing defeats from the likes of Ferencvaros and Sparta Prague and lowly Ross County fired them through the Betfred League Cup exit with a shocking 2-0 win in Glasgow to hand the club their first domestic Cup defeat in 36 games.
The astonishing nosedive in form and fortunes has prompted demonstrations outside the ground with protest banners displayed at the stadium aimed at both Lawwell and Lennon.
Griffiths, who was brought to the club by the Irishman during his first reign on a £1.2million switch from Wolves in January 2014, admitted he feels the pain of the fans.
But he also stressed the supporters should remember what both individuals have contributed to Celtic’s cause during the periods of dominance.
The club have won a remarkable 29 honours since Lawwell’s arrival as chief executive in September 2003 and Lennon went into the history books just last month after leading the team to the phenomenal quadruple treble.
HISTORY BHOY…Leigh Griffiths celebrates scoring Celtic’s third goal in the Scottish Cup Final shoot-out win over Hearts.
He has now won 10 titles, five as a player and five as a manager and, with the penalty-kick shoot-out Scottish Cup Final victory over Hearts, became the only Celt to win the treble as a player and boss.
Griffiths, speaking to the Sunday Mail, said: “There has been talk about the manager’s position and also Mr Lawwell’s position. Fans quickly forget what those two have done for the club.
“The gaffer has won five out of six since he came back, Mr Lawwell has won the last nine domestic league titles and guided us to a quadruple treble.
“I’m sure the manager has had assurances from Mr Lawwell and Mr Desmond, who he will be in regular contact with. If anything was to have happened on that front I’m sure we’d have been the first to know.
“We want him to stay for as long as possible because we feel he is still the right man for the job.”
Griffiths added: “The fans are hurting more than any of us.
“The fans support us and we all love them, we want them back in the stadium as soon as possible, so they can cheer us on. It’s up to us players to put that right.”
Celtic get another chance to win their first match of 2021 at the fifth attempt when they face Hamilton Accies at Parkhead on Wednesday night.
Ironically, they kicked off the campaign on a sunny day in the east end of Glasgow back on August 2 with a 5-1 romp when Odsonne Edouard rattled in a hat-trick.
Dark clouds appeared shortly afterwards.