Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been left "hurt" by fan protests, even though he would have understood if the club decided to sack him after a dismal run of form.
The Hoops, who are chasing a 10th straight league title, have managed just two wins from their past 10 matches in all competitions, with a 35-game unbeaten cup run coming to an end with a defeat to Ross County on Sunday.
Lennon's side sit second in the Scottish Premiership, 11 points adrift of Steven Gerrard's Rangers, and the loss to County sparked angry demonstrations from fans outside Celtic Park.
While understanding of the fans' frustrations, Lennon – who has the support of Celtic's board – admitted he has been hit hard by the protests against him and the club.
"On the scenes on Sunday, we're hurt and disappointed," Lennon said in a news conference ahead of Thursday's Europa League clash with Serie A leaders Milan.
"I understand the frustrations of the supporters because we are not in a great run at the minute. But it serves no purpose, particularly for the players.
"I'm old enough and big enough to take criticism and abuse. Some of it is justified and some of it is over the top. That is the role of a manager and that is the responsibility you have to bear.
"They [the players] felt the wrath of the supporters. It surprised some of them, it shook a few of them up. But they want to put things right for them and obviously the club and myself as well."
Lennon was asked if he believed the County defeat would have brought the curtain down on his second spell in charge of the club.
"Not in my heart of hearts, but I could understand if that had been the case," he replied.
"I am very grateful. They are not a board that sack managers for the sake of it. We have had great success. We are going through a tough time, but they don't leave you out on the lurch.
"For 20 years, I have done everything in my power to bring success to the club and the fans. That is not going to change on the run of a bad month or people being upset by my style of management."