LEIGH GRIFFITHS is used to silencing his critics. He’s done it throughout his career. But simmering down the anger currently threatening to boil over among the Celtic support may be his biggest challenge yet.
The striker and his teammates, but particularly his manager, Neil Lennon, are firmly in the firing line as this season threatens to go down in Celtic history for all the wrong reasons.
The draw against Livingston last Wednesday night leaves the champions without a win in four matches in 2021, and they will have to wait until this coming Wednesday against Hamilton at Celtic Park for their next opportunity to get back on track.
Griffiths may be known for his bravado, but the forward admits that Celtic’s plight and the resultant avalanche of criticism that has fallen on them has been felt within the dressing room. He insists though that there also exists a resolve within the squad to make their snipers eat their words.
“I wouldn’t say [the criticism]is easy to shake off, but it’s a motivation to try to quieten people down a bit,” Griffiths said.
“Yes we’ve got a big points gap to try and claw back and we have not had the best of seasons but it’s still mathematically possible – we can still win the league.
“It’s going to take an almighty push from everybody involved. We need to take it every game at a time.
“After a disappointing game you want to get back on the pitch as quickly as possible. Try to get the boys back motivated again. I still can’t understand why we have not got a game.
“I don’t know the ins and outs of that but listen we just need to work hard over the weekend and look forward to Wednesday.
“It would have been good to get out there over the weekend but we just need to take it on Wednesday and try to get three points on the board.”
Among Griffiths’ chief motivations is to ease the pressure on a man who has stood by him in the past, his under-fire manager, Lennon.
“You always feel for him,” he said. “Especially as we are the ones who can affect what you people say off the pitch.
“We are the ones who need to take most of the responsibility. We are the ones out there playing for three points and we are not putting in the performances.
“The manager and the coaching staff can give you all the instructions possible but ultimately it’s us players who are failing to carry out those instructions perfectly. We’re not giving them what they want.
“We are still doing the same things. The coaching hasn’t changed, the coaching that the gaffer, Kendo (John Kennedy) and Gavin (Strachan) gives us is brilliant.
“It’s just not been a great season. But we still have time to turn it around. It’s the old cliché about game by game. We were disappointed after Livingston but we’re now looking ahead to Hamilton.
“I’m sure [the manager]’s 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.”
What Griffiths does know is that Celtic’s form hasn’t been anywhere near good enough this term, but thinks that those calling for a clean sweep of the boardroom and the dugout have short memories.
“We want [the manager]to stay for as long as possible because we feel he is still the right man for the job,” he said. “There has been talk about his position and also Mr Lawwell’s position too. But you need to remember what these guys have done for the club.
“Yeah, 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. But 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.
“The fans are hurting more than any of us. It’s up to us players to put that right. They have wanted this for so long. They have been signing about it.
“They thought it was a foregone conclusion that we were just going to turn up this season and win the ten. It doesn’t look like that. You need to earn the right to win trophies.
“We earned the right 12 times in a row but that has not been the case this season.
“It’s still mathematically possible to do it but it’s going to be a big task to clinch the ten.”