CHRIS SUTTON has launched an attack on Charlie Nicholas and branded his former Celtic striker “sadly bitter”.
The one-time England international reacted angrily to his fellow-pundit’s comments relating to Neil Lennon not being “a true great”.
Nicholas dismissed the credentials of the Hoops gaffer, despite the Irishman earning unique status in the club’s folklore as the only person to win the treble as a player AND manager.
In fact, Lennon is the solitary individual in Scottish football history to achieve the incredible feat.
He sealed his place in the record books as the Parkhead men overcame stubborn Hearts 4-3 in the penalty-kick shoot-out after Sunday’s Scottish Cup Final had finished 3-3 following extra-time in a tussle that rocked an eerily-silent Hampden..
Nicholas was not overly impressed and wrote in his Daily Express column: “Neil Lennon made history by completing the quadruple treble, but it doesn’t put him up there with true Celtic managerial greats Jock Stein and Brendan Rodgers.
“But I would also say the same about Martin O’Neill. Martin signed some world-class players and also inherited a few, such as Henrik Larsson.
“He brought in big players and Celtic were paying them fortunes. Reaching the 2003 UEFA Cup Final in Seville was fantastic, but I never saw Martin as a true great.
“Lennon is a bit like that.
“I absolutely applaud his achievements in winning a treble as a player and a boss, but, on the managerial front, his triumphs have come at a time when the title races weren’t overly competitive.
“In fact, if he had lost any of them he would have been out of a job.
“Lennon is not up there with the greatest in Jock Stein and I would go as far as to say he hasn’t delivered what Rodgers did, either.”
Nicholas continued: “There’s no denying Lennon has been a success and it is an extraordinary run that he has continued.
“I know it was a bit of a gift what he inherited from Rodgers, but Lennon deserves credit for getting Celtic over the line.
“They now go into the history books and I congratulate him and his team.
“There is a suggestion that ex-players who criticise Lennon or don’t wish the best for Celtic are jealous.
“I have never been jealous, but I am envious of this Celtic team. I would have loved to play in this era, lifting the trophies they have.”
The ex-Hoops frontman added: “Celtic were not dominant against Hearts, but it was all about getting the quadruple treble in the bag.
“It has to be acknowledged that Celtic have produced some high standards over the last four years.
“You can see those standards are slipping and there are weaknesses in their team now.
“The level has dropped from where this team has been.”
Sutton did not waste too many words on Nicholas’ controversial comments and offered a four-word respond on Twitter.
He posted: “Charlie is sadly bitter…”
* AUTHOR Alex Gordon looks at Neil Lennon’s amazing successes in his latest Celtic book, ’50 Flags Plus One’, which covers in great detail the Parkhead club’s glorious fifty-one title triumphs in their glorious history.
Alex traces Lennon’s career in the Hoops as a player and a manager back to his debut on a chilly winter’s evening on Wednesday, December 10 2000 on Tayside when he made his debut against Dundee at Dens Park. Martin O’Neill handed him his debut only two days after his £6million arrival from Leicester City.