In recent weeks, I’ve been writing about a trend that has me somewhat confused, but not in the least bit concerned; the way Chris Sutton has become an arch critic of almost every aspect of the club, just not the one that is most responsible for our current mess. He seems to have the guns trained everywhere except in the director’s box.
He has hectored our manager more in the last few weeks than Hugh Keevins. Now, I appreciate that he’s got a job to do and I appreciate that his views are shared by some of our supporters, but “Ex-Celtic star claims Celtic manager is doing a terrible job” will generate greater headlines than just about any other story in the media, and he knows that.
When your articles are featuring on Ibrox fan sites, and being praised there, when those sites hate your living guts, I would suggest that you might want to rethink the strategy. Sutton’s problem is that he never knows when its time to take a simple shot and when it’s time to bring out the blunderbuss, and his whole style is about putting himself front and centre.
And to be honest, we don’t need that right now. None of his opinions are particularly controversial, but they all feed into the narrative that the manager is the one who has screwed things up here and I am not entirely convinced that has merit. He’s not blameless, but to start claiming every drop off in player form is down to him is nothing short of ridiculous.
Today the headlines are that the manager has ruined Kyogo. It’s rubbish, I’m afraid to say. Kyogo remains a very capable footballer. The fact is that most clubs in Scotland have pretty much sussed what the Japanese forward does best and by using ultra-defensive tactics they have neutralised it. It’s not a coincidence that he keeps on scoring against the Ibrox club and he’s shown that he can do it too in the big games in the Champions League … those teams do not do what the majority of other teams in this league have made their stock-in-trade.
Kyogo was dropped from the last game and we saw what a difference a big, strong player like Idah makes to those same defences. He got into the rough and tumble. He enjoyed the battle. And he was effective. Don’t be surprised if he continues to be, because he was signed for this system and Kyogo was signed to play in a very different sort of team.
That team is gone. A lot of people need to start adapting to that fact. We don’t have Ange Postecoglou as manager anymore and the style of football he used went with him.
Those who are suggesting we should play “Ange football” just so our star striker starts putting the ball in the net again don’t really understand how the game works and how impossible that is; as I keep saying, if it was that easy we could just hire Derek McInnes and tell him to play AngeBall. And you do not hire a top class coach to work with someone else’s system. You hire him to work with his own. And then you back him. I am not surprised that Sutton, the tactical God of a short spell as manager of Lincoln City does not fully grasp the first fact, but I’m really amazed that he doesn’t give the manager a break out of recognition for the second.
We will not see Rodgers fully emerge this time around until he has the players he needs. Who were the stars of the last Celtic side under this manager? Dembele and Sinclair, the two guys he identified and who he brought here to great fanfare and acclaim. Who was the star man at Celtic before those two arrived? Leigh Griffiths, off the back of a madcap scoring season where you couldn’t see past him as our number one forward.
Once we’d seen Moussa, by God everything became clear.
Sutton has also said that Kyogo is “too good for the current Celtic team.” Which is just an insult to every other player in the side and a ridiculous statement to make at a time when, to be blunt, he’s not kicking his own backside. Honestly, I find his constant attacks on the manager right now to be absolutely tiresome, and his inability to see beyond him startling.
I’ve argued that Rodgers will have to change the system if we’re going to win the league, but I’m not suggesting we do it so we can build it around one player, that’s just ludicrous and even dangerous because if that player gets injured what then?
Rodgers will have to adapt this side to get the best out of all the players in it, not just one, and to narrow our issues on the field right now to that one specific player being off form is why Rodgers made it as a top class coach and Sutton didn’t; it is never as simple as it looks for the commentary box.