CHRIS SUTTON reckons Ange Postecoglou will have “to get the tin hat on and try to survive” as he attempts to get Celtic back on track.
The new manager has already watched helplessly as the Hoops crashed out of the Champions League at the first hurdle after the feeble extra-time performance against FC Midtjylland in midweek when it was clear he did not have the quality on the substitutes’ bench to give his leg-weary team some much-needed energy.
Postecoglou steps back into the spotlight in Edinburgh this evening when the Parkhead outfit launch their Premiership campaign against newly-promoted Hearts at Tynecastle.
Former goal hero Sutton believes the one-time Australia international gaffer is in for a bumpy ride – and the Englishman points the finger at the dithering board who have not acted quickly enough to support Neil Lennon’s successor.
A BHOY ALONE…Ange Postecoglou needs support from the Hoops hierarchy.
All eyes were on Brendan Rodgers in the summer of 2018 when the club flopped out of Europe’s elite competition after failing to beat AEK Athens in the qualifiers. He was gone six months later. Lennon suffered in the next two seasons with awful losses against Cluj and Ferencvaros and now Postecoglou has experienced that sinking feeling at Europe’s top table.
Sutton criticised his old team three years ago after the Greek tragedy and, looking at today’s situation, said: “The Aussie has been left in a horrendous position going into tonight’s Premiership opener.
“In fact, it’s miles worse than ever before. The club has learned absolutely nothing. Nothing at all.
“Rodgers had his very first league game at Tynecastle and the win set him up to secure seven straight trophies.
“Right now, Postecoglou doesn’t even have seven players good enough within his entire squad to win a title back.
“His best one, Odsonne Edouard, doesn’t even seem to want to be there and it says everything about where Celtic are right now that the manager has no choice but to keep playing him because he literally has no-one else. Nothing has been done about Ryan Christie’s deal.
“I honestly cannot get my head around where Celtic are at the moment.
ON HIS WAY…Odsonne Edouard is likely to move this summer.
“It says it all that I haven’t spoken to one fan who blames Postecoglou at all for the Champions League exit. It’s all on his bosses.
“What on earth have people been doing behind the scenes for the past seven months?
“I’m not going to go over old ground, but we all knew then that Celtic had a squad full of loanees and wantaway men and that massive provisions were needed.
“Who did anything about it in the period between the close of the last transfer window in February and the summer? Looks like nobody.
“The only thing I can possibly conclude is that they were so far wrapped-up in Eddie Howe that they thought he’d sort everything from Head of Recruitment to Director of Football because it appears from the outside there hasn’t been a stroke done on either.
“Judging by Postecoglou’s recent comments, he’s been putting names forward for signing and they are not being delivered at a fast enough rate or delivered at all.
“Given the paucity of the squad, that’s a disgraceful state of affairs and a dreadful indictment of the work behind the scenes.”
Sutton, Martin O’Neill’s first buy for the club at £6million from Chelsea in July 2000, continued: “I have no idea if Postecoglou is going to be a good Celtic coach because he hasn’t been given a chance yet to show it.
SCARF ACE…Carl Starfelt faces a massive challenge in the Hoops central defence.
“He needs to get a squad together and fast. Carl Starfelt is coming out of quarantine as some sort of saviour. Listen, I’m not going to knock a boy before he even starts as he might do well. I hope for Postecoglou’s sake he turns into Johan Mjallby MKII.
“But Starfelt didn’t make a 26-man Sweden squad for the Euros in a defence which contained Filip Helander and Mikael Lustig, who was past his best three years ago.
“Japanese Kyogo Furuhashi might be superb. He’ll need to be. So will another half a dozen at least who need to sign.
“Celtic go to Hearts tonight to face a goalkeeper in Craig Gordon who the club ushered out of the door 12 months ago and he’s still better than the three Postecoglou has had to choose from so far put together.”
Ominously, Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “Hearts could easily defeat Celtic tonight and can we really put hand on heart and say the current squad as it stands will take care of Jablonec in the Europa League qualifiers?
SAYING IT WITH STYLE…Kyogo Furuhashi’s classy tweet.
“Is it going to take the club falling into the new European Vanarama League for anyone in a position of power to actually work out the seriousness of this situation?
“To be honest, if they did, do we really believe it would make such a difference? It doesn’t seem to have made any in the recent past.
“Postecoglou has to get the tin hit on and try to survive these next couple of months.
“He’s got to somehow get through them without any more serious damage being inflicted while he’s putting a team together.
“Postecoglou has been sold short, but he’s the one who is going to have to try and keep things afloat.”
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Hearts v Celtic this evening – only in your champion CQN.