Stephen Thompson branded United's performance in a 3-0 home defeat by Motherwell on Tuesday "abysmal" and claimed the players had 13 games left to "redeem their professional reputations" after falling 13 points adrift at the foot of the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Ahead of Saturday's visit of Hearts, Paatelainen refused to state whether he agreed with Thompson's comments but stressed the Tannadice chairman was entitled to his opinion and that he and his squad were open to criticism.
"Obviously the chairman is the head of the club and is totally entitled to say whatever he wants, make a statement whenever he wants," he said.
"I don't think it's a surprise to anybody that he is not happy with the situation because none of us are
The players are not happy, the coaching staff are not happy, the supporters, the board
So it's not a real surprise.
"It's not for me to judge what the chairman says, at all
I just get on with the job
The players and coaching staff work together
We try to improve the team, performances and results."
For many, Thompson's statement undermined Paatelainen and the United boss was unaware of the content of Wednesday morning's update.
"He mentioned to me that he was going to put out a statement," he said
"I didn't know exactly the wording of the statement."
There was no reference to Paatelainen and Thompson admitted the board had made some unspecified mistakes over the past 18 months, but the manager put himself firmly in the same camp as his players
When asked if he interpreted the statement as "having a go" at himself as well, the former Kilmarnock manager said: "Absolutely
As far as I'm concerned we are in the same boat as the players
We work together
The coaching staff, the players, myself, we are together
"It's us who do the work every day on the training ground, it's us who prepares for the matches, it's us who go out there and do our best
It's a combined effort.
"We work together, we fight together, we win together, we lose together, we draw together, and improve together."
United were second bottom when they sacked Jackie McNamara, although they had slumped to the foot of the table by the time Paatelainen was appointed in October.
The anticipated lift did not come but the former United striker insists they have improved despite taking only nine points from a possible 45 during his reign.
"Of course we hoped there would have been quicker improvement, absolutely," he said
"It's not that simple to turn the ship
We knew at the time when we came in that there were problems
Unfortunately the ship hasn't turned as quickly as we wanted and perhaps anticipated
"There are many reasons for it and I won't list them in the media
We keep them in house.
"The last few weeks' results and performances have been better
Tuesday was a setback
There are always setbacks.
"If someone says there hasn't been improvement since we came in, I totally disagree with that
There has been big improvement, unfortunately the results don't show that."
Source : PA