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‘DON’T BLAME DEILA,’ JOHANSEN

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STEFAN JOHANSEN has insisted the Celtic players can’t let Ronny Deila take all the blame for their run of poor form.

The Hoops struggled again at the weekend before substitute Leigh Griffiths netted the stoppage-time winner against Partick Thistle at Parkhead. The 20-goal marksman even admitted afterwards his under-fire manager “probably needed it” after another flat, uninspiring performance.

It was the champions’ first league win at home in three games after drawing 0-0 against Kilmarnock and losing 2-1 to Motherwell in the previous outings.

With Celtic reduced to 10 men following Nir Bitton’s dismissal, fans were becoming increasingly frustrated until the striker’s late intervention lifted the champions three points clear of Aberdeen, whose game with St Johnstone was postponed yesterday because of a waterlogged McDiarmid Park pitch.

Johansen accepted displays have dipped dangerously close to a level supporters are finding unacceptable, the midfielder rallied behind his fellow-Norwegian amid growing calls for the board to sack him.

He said: “That is too simple. It’s not him who has to play.

“The players need to take responsibility, as well. We’ve not done well enough in a couple of games. You can’t just blame the manager.

“We need to be realistic. We have not played well in some games and we have to take the criticism – that’s part of the job and we have to be ready to bounce back.”

Deila watched as his team survived a torrid ending to the game when Kieran Tierney cleared a netbound Dan Seaborne header off the line. Grumbles from supporters gave way to relief when Griffiths struck the winner.

Johansen added: “It’s always like that at a huge club. If you see Manchester United now, for example, or Chelsea.

“Celtic are a massive club in Europe, so there is always going to be that type of pressure and when you don’t win games questions will be asked.

“But we have belief in what we do and we showed great team spirit.

“Of course, there is high expectation at Celtic, but that’s part of the job here. They want us to win 10-0 every game. But that’s not how it works.

“Now we’ve started the year with a win and I hope we can continue that for the rest of the year.”

 
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