CHRIS SUTTON has pinpointed one major Celtic failing that “may well come back to haunt them” in their Champions League campaign.
The former Hoops goal hero believes his old club could pay a heavy price for a lack of ruthlessness in Europe’s elite competition.
Sutton insists Ange Postecoglou deserves massive credit for the transformation in the team since his arrival in June last year.
However, there is a component missing if the club hopes to take the next step up to another level.
Celtic Park will be heaving on Tuesday night when RB Leipzig, 3-1 midweek victors over the Parkhead men in the Red Bull Arena, provide the opposition in the fourth encounter in Group F with the hosts still waiting for their first win following an opening-day loss to European champions Real Madrid and a 1-1 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw.
MOMENT OF CELEBRATION…Filipe Jota acknowledges the fans’ applause after his goal in Leipzig.
Now, after the most recent setback in Germany, Postecoglou will hit the reset button again next week.
Speaking of the Greek-Australian’s sky-high ambitions, Sutton said: “He is trying to change a mindset within the Scottish game with his fearless brand of football and I for one admire his style and methods and hope Scottish football can learn from him.
“Now what Celtic need to do more than ever is to trust in what he says and what he’s trying to achieve. It’s about not fearing mistakes or becoming negative when you make one.
“The manager said he saw it coming in Leipzig and anyone watching saw it coming, but these things happen and you need to weather the storm and have a bravery.
“The Shakhtar performance and Leipzig up until they equalised were real positives. I keep hearing people say Celtic should set up differently, but I’d love these people to come out and tell us how they would have the team lined up. Anyone can analyse a game over 90 minutes and pick out the faults and say what a team hasn’t done well.
MEN AT WORK…Ange Postecoglou and Harry Kewell at Lennoxtown yesterday.
“In Celtic’s case they haven’t been ruthless or clinical in Europe this season, that is an issue. But you can also strip things back further. We are three games into these group games, Celtic opened up against Real Madrid at Celtic Park and for 60 minutes were excellent. That’s a massive positive as who would have actually thought that?
“Look at where the club were a few seasons ago and to have the confidence and belief to play like that was unimaginable. Now it’s about making that next step.”
Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “Anyone who thought this would just be another seamless rise once again for Celtic under Postecoglou this season, especially at Champions League level, would have been mistaken.
“There are going to be bumps on the road, people need to sit back and breathe a little and accept that Celtic have made so much progress under the current manager.
“It’s a ruthless level and nobody said Celtic had cracked it. But Postecoglou is trying to change the mindset within the Scottish game and that is really healthy.
TURNING POINT…boss Ange Postecoglou and Callum McGregor look concerned as the Celtic skipper limps off in Germany in midweek.
“In Celtic’s case this season in Europe they have lacked a ruthlessness which may well come back to haunt them if they fail to make progress out of their group.
“But there have been so many encouraging signs. Look where the club were 18 months ago and where they are now in terms of style of football, belief and confidence. The transformation has been so quick under Postecoglou and this was unimaginable in such a small space of time.
“Now it’s about making the next step.”
Sutton added: “When I look at what happened in the loss in Leipzig there were a few things which stood out. It was clear that when Callum McGregor went off injured the team lost a bit of leadership, he’s been the guy in the middle of the park who makes them tick.
“It shows just what an impact he has on his side when that authority was missing when he wasn’t on the pitch and he’s going to be a huge loss.
READY TO GO…Celtic trio Alexandre Bernabei, Anthony Ralston and Cameron Carter-Vickers prepare for training yesterday. Image courtesy Celtic TV.
“Oliver Abildgaard came on for the captain and it was difficult for him as the game passed him by. It was tough for him, but there isn’t time to bed yourself in for a few games and McGregor’s boots are impossible to fill, but he needs to affect the game more with his own style as that’s what is needed to make Celtic tick.
“At that level it is super ruthless and Celtic found that out the hard way again. That said, the message Postecoglou is sending out about what he’s trying to achieve is an important one.
“Maybe Cameron Carter-Vicker and Aaron Moy will be back against St Johnstone today and Leipzig in midweek. They will need to bring leadership qualities which Celtic lacked in the second-half in Germany.”
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report and best action images from St Johnstone v Celtic this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.