CHRIS SUTTON admits he is worried about the lack of leadership on the park at Celtic next season.
The former Hoops striker reacted to the announcement veteran skipper Scott Brown was calling a halt at Parkhead at the end of the season following 14 glorious years.
Brown was the energetic, driving force behind the side as he led by example while winning a phenomenal TWENTY-TWO honours since his £4.4million arrival from Hibs in 2007, bought by Gordon Strachan and arguably the club’s best buy this century.
The final curtain will come down – hopefully in the Scottish Cup Final on May 22 with the midfielder adding to his silverware haul – as the inspirational onfield leader heads for a reunion with his ex-Easter Road team-mate Stephen Glass at Aberdeen.
THE LEADER…Scott Brown leads the Celtic celebrations after the 2019 League Cup triumph with Ryan Christie, Kristoffer Ajer and Callum McGregor joining in.
Sutton revealed Celtic had about SIX captains during his playing days at the club and wonders if his former side will have that sort of backbone in the forthciming crucial campaign after a wretched season.
The one-time England international forward said: “Callum McGregor has huge boots to fill at Celtic.
“But he can’t do it on his own. And the club are going to have to get some more leaders in through the front door to give him half a chance.
“McGregor, should he take on the captaincy, is replacing a legend. There’s no other way to describe Scott Brown when you consider his contribution, his longevity and his haul of 22 trophies.
“Brown’s efforts have been remarkable and it’s a bitter blow that he’s leaving for Aberdeen.
“Celtic should not have let him walk out of the door. Let’s be clear here, I don’t know the circumstances. Maybe there was nothing they could have done to prevent him leaving. Maybe Brown had made his mind up and that was that.
“Celtic said they were desperate to keep him. I would have thought if they were desperate to keep him, they could have done it, but I can’t be critical because I’m not sure of the exact circumstances.
HAMPDEN HAPPY DAYS…Scott Brown is at the front of the celebrations after the League Cup win in December 2019 with Ryan Christie, Callum McGregor and Kristoffer Ajer joining in the salute to the Celtic support.
“Brown was an inspiration. What he did and what he achieved as a Celtic skipper was highly impressive. You can have all the talent in the world, but you can’t buy that desire or that hunger. Sure he had a wobble during the Ronny Deila reign, but Brendan Rodgers got him going again and he didn’t stop.
“The fact he was the best midfielder on the pitch last weekend in the derby game against Rangers said everything. I felt Brown should have been retained to help with transition and now that is going to fall onto McGregor’s shoulders.
“At the age of 27, he is ready to do the job. He’s been there for long enough and he sets examples with his work-rate, his talent and his attitude.
“McGregor speaks well, as a captain should, and it is my understanding that he commands the respect of the people inside the dressing room and inside the club.
“You have to have that. You need to have a voice. You need to have a presence.”
HEAD AND SHOULDERS ABOVE THEM ALL…Scott Brown whoops it up during a 2-0 win at Ibrox in 2019.
Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “A team needs an abundance of leaders. Yes there will be one at the front, but you need a cast of them through the squad and that’s my concern for Celtic.
“If you look through that Celtic squad and see who else could lead the team if McGregor was not there, who would you say? Kristoffer Ajer would be about the only one and he’ll be leaving.
“Decent players in there, but no captains. Maybe if Christopher Julien speaks as passionately in the dressing room as he does on Instagram, then he might be a contender, but few else.
“That worries me. Celtic are going to have to make changes in the summer, we know that. A huge influx of players are going to be required. Dermot Desmond admitted as much through the week.
IT TAKES TWO…Callum McGregor and Scott Brown with the 2020 Scottish Cup.
“But they are going to have to have more than just ability. They are going to have to be leaders put in there as well because McGregor will need help.
“If he doesn’t get it, the pressure of the position will affect his form and the club will lose out in every department.”
Suton added: “Brown had McGregor. Before that he had the likes of Mikael Lustig. Virgil van Dijk before that. Paul Lambert and Tom Boyd were my captains at Celtic, but we had Neil Lennon, Henrik Larsson, Johan Mjallby.
“There were about six captains on the park every week and each one would take a turn in pulling others through on a given day.
“I don’t see where McGregor gets that help from at the moment and the new manager is going to have to install it into the group. And fast.”