CHRIS SUTTON insists Nick Hammond has a massive job on his hands to clean up the MESS left behind by Lee Congerton.
Celtic announced the former Reading and West Brom operator as their permanent talent scout after he had worked with Neil Lennon in an interim basis in the summer.
Former Hoops striker Sutton reckons the Englishman must hit the ground running to make sure the champions have possible recruitments in sight and the players available as they look for nine in a row.
However, the media pundit was far from impressed by his predecessor Congerton who walked away to join Brendan Rodgers at Leicester City in the summer.
Looking at the appointment of Hammond, Sutton, speaking in the Daily Record, said: “Celtic’s new head of football operations is one of the most important signings of the season.
“We have yet to discover Hammond’s actual remit beyond the fancy and unfathomable title.
“But it does look like he has been handed the keys to Celtic Park by Peter Lawwell.
“Going on titles alone, his predecessor Lee Congerton was head of recruitment, but Hammond’s role sounds more far reaching. Let’s be honest, he has a lot of work to do to mop up the mess left behind by the last guy.
“Celtic may have been hugely successful on the pitch and you can’t argue about a team that has won eight titles on the spin.
“However, the trophy cabinet doesn’t hide the fact the club lost its way a little bit in terms of recruitment in recent years.
“Congerton’s strike rate when it came to signings was fairly abysmal and a lot of the success was built on those who were already in the building.
MAN ON A MISSION…Nick Hammond, Celtic’s new head of football operations.
“Celtic have players such as Scott Brown, Callum McGregor and James Forrest to thank, while Scott Sinclair early on, Moussa Dembele and Odsonne Edouard were the only real stand-out signings over three seasons.
“The club need to get back to discovering hidden gems, the bargain buys that can do a job for the team in the short-term and make money over a longer period.
“You go back even to Henrik Larsson and Lubo Moravcik for buttons, through to Victor Wanyama for less than a million and Virgil van Dijk for £2.6million. That conveyor belt has to keep going – all while Celtic are performing and continuing to pick up trophies.”
Sutton added: “I don’t know how much credit we can give him for the summer signings as he was late to the party, but you have to say overall it was a positive window for Celtic.
“They could have done their business earlier, but the important thing is the lessons have been learned. Hammond can’t be judged on last summer – but he will be on January and beyond.
“It’s a huge period for Celtic and he has to get the club away from the annual situation of scrambling for new recruits in the midst of a European qualifying campaign.
“How often have we seen them going in to key games without a centre-half or a right-back? Hammond’s appointment has to be the end of working on the hoof.
“There must be planning for the short, medium and long-term. Celtic can’t afford to be caught with their pants down like they were when Dembele left on deadline day in summer 2018.
“Bids for Edouard and McGregor shouldn’t come as a shock at the end of the season. There have to be contingency plans put in place.”
Hammond has been credited for background work in bringing in right-back Jeremie Frimpong, from Manchester City, centre-half Lee O’Connor, from Manchester United, and striker Jonathan Afolabi, who knocked back a contract extension at Southampton to join the Hoops during the summer transfer window.