CHRIS SUTTON insists his former Celtic team-mate Neil Lennon has problems to solve following a stuttering start to a monumental season.
However, the former Hoops goal hero, Martin O’Neill’s first buy for the club at £6million from Chelsea in the summer of 2000, insists his old club is NOT in crisis.
Lennon has already witnessed his team crashing out of the Champions League to unseeded Ferencavros at Parkhead and they toiled to get past the stubborn obstacle of FC Riga in Latvia on Thursday before booking a crucial play-off spot against Sarajevo in Bosnia next week.
There have been two odd-goal successes over St Mirren (2-1) in Paisley and Livingston (3-2) at Parkhead with the nine-in-a-row champions failing to sparkle.
Obvious situations require to be addressed and answers found – immediately.
Sutton, now a top media pundit, speaking in the Daily Record, said: “There are some Celtic fans questioning the attitude of Odsonne Edouard after his low-key performance in Riga.
“The only one I would be asking is, where was the service?
“I’m not having this idea the Frenchman wasn’t interested the other night. I get he didn’t have the best of nights, but it was a horrible game in Latvia.
“Celtic got the job done, but I know what these games can be like. Riga were not interested in playing, it was a total containment job.
“The Old Firm face the same most weeks in Scotland, but if Celtic managed to pinch a late winner at Rugby Park then nobody would be complaining too much.
“Riga made life awkward for Copenhagen last season and they did it again on Thursday night.
“It would have been a complete disaster if Celtic had gone out – but they didn’t.
“They are in the play-offs and face a stiff test in Sarajevo next week. Neil Lennon’s side have won five on the bounce, but you’d think they are in crisis the way some people are going on.
“They are not in crisis, but that doesn’t mean they are firing on all cylinders, because that is clearly not the case.”
Sutton continued his analysis: “Edouard has been the focus from the other night and I admit the mixed messages have created confusion. He had come back from injury and looks like he needs games, yet Lennon said he was tired and needed rested.
“He wasn’t at the races in Latvia, but there is absolutely nothing in the player’s character that suggests he’s about to down tools or look for a move away.
“It could have just been an off night. Believe me, it happens. The bigger concern is the system is not playing to his strengths.
“I go back to the short time when Celtic had Moussa Dembele and Odsonne Edouard playing together. They looked dynamite as a partnership and it was such a shame they couldn’t have teamed up for longer.
“Then you look at the second half of last season with Leigh Griffiths. Edouard looks more comfortable in a two up top, but for some reason Celtic went with a 3-4-1-1 the other night.
“Leaving out Albian Ajeti was a strange one for me. He needs games to get fully fit and Riga was an ideal chance to get the two of them on the pitch. Let him get a goal and then give him a break after 60 minutes if necessary. Perhaps the question is if Lennon believes they can play as a pair.
“It does seem Lennon is still working out his best formation and line-up to get the best out of his players.
“There’s no doubt it’s a conundrum. Like it is with Mohamed Elyounoussi.
“He didn’t do much wrong to be left out of the side and made a huge impact when he came on. But going to a 3-5-2 takes him out of the game and it’s just another thing for Lennon to figure out.
“Could he play as the one behind if there’s two up top?”
One-time England international Sutton added: “I’m not joining in with the bashing of Greg Taylor, but there is a need for another left-back, as it’s important for competition and if the club are going to do anything in Europe – provided they can deal with Sarajevo.
“Taylor is neat and tidy, but doesn’t have the attributes to play wing-back in Lennon’s preferred system and Celtic need to move quickly.
“I can’t help but feel there is a need for a more settled side. It’s not easy to find any sort of rhythm when the team and tactics are changing on a weekly basis.
“You can see it at the back where there is still an uncertainty and it’s definitely evident up front where combinations are vital to unlocked packed defences.
“The good thing for Celtic at the moment is they are winning games without being at their best. The real tests are still to come. I actually think Hibs this weekend might suit them as they’ll come out to play.
“Rangers are also on the horizon and I know that’s the one Celtic fans will be thinking about already.
“Lennon’s side are not in crisis – but there are still plenty of questions.”