Mohamed Elyounoussi: Celtic can no longer use Covid crisis as an excuse for slump

Celtic are currently 20 points behind Rangers in the Scottish Premiership table

Mohamed Elyounoussi says everyone at Celtic needs to take responsibility for this season's slump and stop using coronavirus as an excuse
Image: Mohamed Elyounoussi says everyone at Celtic needs to take responsibility for this season's slump and stop using coronavirus as an excuse

Mohamed Elyounoussi says it is time Celtic stopped using the coronavirus crisis to excuse their shattered 10-in-a-row dreams.

From the Boli Bolingoli saga to having 13 players plus boss Neil Lennon forced to self-isolate after Christopher Jullien returned from the club's controversial Dubai trip with the virus, the Hoops have endured a turbulent season both on and off the pitch.

Lennon has also repeatedly suggested the closed-door conditions enforced by the pandemic has been a factor in his side's slump this season, while Parkhead chief Peter Lawwell stoked controversy last week when he claimed coronavirus had affected their club "probably…more than any".

However, Elyounoussi believes it is time Lennon's squad finally look themselves in the mirror and admit they have just not been good enough to keep pace with a rampant Rangers now 20 points ahead in the table.

The on-loan Southampton forward, who returned to action after his stint in quarantine only to see the Hoops drop points for the fourth time this year at Livingston on Wednesday night, said: "Look, it hasn't been a normal season with the pandemic and everything going around.

LIVINGSTON, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 20: Celtic manager Neil Lennon during a Scottish Premiership match between Livingston and Celtic at the Tony Macaroni Arena, on January 20, 2021, in Livingston, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group) 4:02
Former Celtic defender Gary Caldwell believes manager Neil Lennon should not take all of the blame for their struggles this season

"There have been things outside football, like our self-isolation. But everyone is in the same situation. So that's no excuse. We have to be honest here, we cannot look for excuses any more.

"Everyone needs to pick themselves up, dig in deeper and work hard. There is always the next game. We have to keep looking forward and approach every game with positivity."

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The Dubai break was supposed to be a chance for Celtic to recharge their batteries and refresh their minds after a bruising end to 2020.

But instead, it backfired with the trip overshadowed by pictures appearing to show players breaching social distancing protocols during a day off.

Jullien's positive test then ruled out a raft of first-team stars, leaving a scratch line-up to scrape draws with Hibernian and Livingston at home.

SPFL Livingstone v Celtic 3:04
Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between Livingston and Celtic

Lennon was able to recall a host of key men for the rematch with David Martindale's Lions at the Tony Macaroni Arena but by then the Hoops' fragile confidence was clear for all to see and they threw away another two points by allowing Jay Emmanuel-Thomas to rescue a point in a 2-2 draw.

Elyounoussi netted his 13th goal of the season to cancel out Ciaron Brown's opener for Livi with Nir Bitton then firing Celtic ahead at the break but yet again they could not finish off the job.

"I don't mean any disrespect, but I don't care about scoring a goal," confessed Elyounoussi. "If you don't win the games it doesn't matter.

"Everyone has to take responsibility, look at themselves in the mirror. Everyone can improve, everyone can put more effort in.

"But I think everyone is working hard in training. You can see that from the intensity in training. We haven't done anything differently this year from last year. I think it is just the small margins which are against us.

"There have been too many draws, too many games where we have been up and have conceded late on. That's what's killing us at the moment."

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