ABRAHAM LINCOLN’s famous line about how “you can’t fool all of the people all of the time” sprung to mind in the aftermath of Celtic’s narrow victory over Partick Thistle on Saturday. Leigh Griffiths’ goal in the 90th minute ensured Ronny Deila and his players would not be booed off the field as had been the case at half-time but the Parkhead crowd still seemed far from appeased. A quick glance at social media later that evening proved that to be the case. “Papering over the cracks,” seemed the most popular verdict on what was a largely ill-deserved first home win in five attempts.

Only time will tell how long Deila remains as manager but it appears he has already lost the hearts and minds of some of the Celtic support who seem unconvinced that he is the right man to take the club forward. The Norwegian could point towards the fact that Celtic remain top of the Ladbrokes Premiership and in both domestic cups as a sign that things are far from catastrophic. He could yet become only the third manager in the club’s history to complete a treble. And yet, the sight of Celtic toiling at home to the likes of Molde, Motherwell, Kilmarnock and now Thistle has been enough for some to arrive at the conclusion that this is not a Celtic team performing at the levels expected of them.

In this Rangers-less era, the belief is that Celtic should not only be winning most weeks, but doing so convincingly as well. That is not been the case too often this season. Thistle, who had a chance kicked off the line with the game goalless with eight minutes left, did not look a team under any serious pressure. As their manager Alan Archibald noted afterwards, there have been plenty times in the past when teams would come to Celtic Park and find themselves under siege from the first minute until the last, unable to leave their own penalty box. This was far from one of those days. The Parkhead fear factor resides solely within the home fans these days.

Stefan Johansen did not try to sugarcoat his thoughts on the display. “It was not a good game. We struggled with passing and to create any chances,” said the Norwegian with admirable candour. He did, however, also venture the theory that what the Celtic fans expect, and what is realistic, rarely converge. More credit should be given to the opposition, he suggested, while hoping that the Celtic support would show greater patience in future as the team tries to emerge from its mid-season malaise.

“I think [we will get better] and the whole team thinks so,” he added. “Of course there is high expectation at Celtic but that’s part of the job here. The fans want us to win 10-0 every game. But that’s not how it works. Thistle have been good recently and are hard to play against. They defend very well but we just need to try our best. It was not our best game but to show this sort of character to come back and win is important. We want to play with higher tempo and passing through other teams but that didn’t go so well because they defended very well. But now we’ve started the year with a win and I hope we can continue that for the rest of the year.”

There was an acknowledgement, however, that murmurs of discontent will only grow louder during a period of mixed form. “When the result does not go the right way people start asking questions. That’s how it is at a club like Celtic. Look at Man United now, for example, or Chelsea. Celtic is 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.”

It is the very nature of football that a manager will always face greater criticism than his players. Deila may feel some of his team are not performing as well as they ought to and that their actions – like Nir Bitton’s red card midway through the second half – may eventually contribute to his downfall. That is an occupational hazard that he must endure. Johansen, though, felt it would be unfair to blame only the manager for all of Celtic’s current ills.

“That is too simple. It’s not him who has to play. The players need to take responsibility as well. We have 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.”

Johansen has endured some personal flak, too, this season, with his form not reaching the heights of last season when he was crowned Scottish football’s player of the year. That led to him being left out the team for a period and he believes he is now reaping the rewards of that rest.

“I felt very good after that break. My head was spinning. Coming from Norway and playing so many games here, like you do at Celtic, is new for me. It is quite easy just to say everything is okay. But then the form starts dropping. After that break I was able to reflect on things. I pushed football away and could see things that I didn’t see every day when you’re in the middle of it. It was good for me, I’ll be honest with you, I felt it helped. And it’s going to help in the long term.”