Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes believes managers have become “punch bags” who have to roll with the blows.
McInnes will tomorrow lead Aberdeen against Celtic at Parkhead just days after Neil Lennon resigned as manager of the Hoops.
Lennon’s former assistant John Kennedy will be in the dugout tomorrow in interim charge as the Celtic board hunt for a new manager.
Lennon came under intense pressure this season for failing to deliver 10 titles in a row and stepped down with Celtic 18 points behind runaway league leaders and champions elect Rangers.
This campaign, McInnes has also experienced criticism with speculation regarding his future, prompting Pittodrie chairman Dave Cormack to publicly back him.
McInnes believes the pressure and attention on managers has become more intense in the modern game.
But the Pittodrie boss insists both he and Lennon knew what they were signing up for when leading teams where supporters demand success.
McInnes said: “Neil is someone who’s had a very successful managerial career.
“That shouldn’t be forgotten in this.
“Sometimes he can be seen as a bit of a punch bag – and managers can be.
“But Neil, in particular this season, has had to contend with a lot and will be devastated that he’s not been able to get that consistency that would have allowed them to challenge Rangers at the top of the league.”
McInnes has also copped flak this season for a slump in form that saw a club-record six games without scoring.
That barren streak was finally broken with a 1-0 defeat of Kilmarnock at the weekend.
However, it was only the second win in 12 games for the Dons.
It is a slump in form which opened the way for Hibs to wrestle control of third spot.
We all get it.
“When you sign up to be a manager, you know you are going to get stick.”
The Easter Road side now sit in third and have a four-point advantage over Aberdeen and also a game in hand.
McInnes said: “We all get it. When you sign up to be a manager, you know you are going to get stick.
“Having spoken to Walter (Smith, former Rangers and Scotland manager) and managers from a different era, you can see what managers in this era have to contend with is far greater than they did.
“There are all those outside pressures that you need to ignore and try to get on with the job.
“But it can be difficult.
“Ultimately, Neil as manager at Celtic, player, captain and coach at Celtic knew the demands.
“We as managers know the importance of trying to win games and trying to keep it manageable and real.”
Some pressure on McInnes was relieved with the much-needed win against struggling Kilmarnock.
McInnes believes the key to surviving tough times is retaining calmness and remembering previous challenging periods where he has successfully navigated choppy waters.
He said: “What you have to do is expect tough times as a manager.
“You have to be ready to try to deal with it.
“Sometimes you have the benefit of experience through tough periods.
“There might be legitimate reasons for why your team is not performing at its best, all managers will find that.
“It is important you lean on your experience, your way of working.
“If you can be pretty balanced when winning and work the same way when losing that helps.
“It is important that you have a degree of calmness.
“Obviously every manager needs that level of support from the people you are working with.
“Going through tough periods, it doesn’t matter how good a manager you are, you are always going to face that at some point in your career.”
Ultimately, Lennon did not survive the 10-in-a-row battle.
With so much at stake for the Glasgow two, there was an inevitability one manager, Lennon or Rangers’ Steven Gerrard would fall – either for failing to get the 10-in-a-row or failing to stop it.
McInnes said: “Having seen some of the comments from the Celtic players, there’s that feeling of regret as you’d expect.
“I’m disappointed Neil won’t be in the opposition dugout.
“I’ve come up against him many times and like to feel as though I can class him as a friend.
“What can’t be forgotten, and what won’t be forgotten, is that he’s been a very successful Celtic manager and, at this moment in time, maybe not everyone can see it.
“Time will be kind to Neil.”