CHRIS SUTTON admits he was highly critical of Brendan Rodgers following the Irishman’s sudden exit as Celtic manager in February 2019.

The Hoops, with the League Cup already won, were on course for a historic treble treble. They were due to face Hearts at Tynecastle in a crucial Premiership encounter with a Scottish Cup quarter-final against Hibs at Easter Road coming up fast.

Rodgers, though, left for Leicester City after seven successive trophies and two and a half years in charge.

There was outrage among the Hoops following with a section of the support particularly incensed.

ONE DOWN, SIX TO GO…Brendan Rodgers holds aloft the League Cup after the 3-0 win over Aberdeen in November 2016, the first of seven successive domestic trophies.

Everyone had their say about the abrupt departure as Neil Lennon made a shock return to the dug-out to see the club over the line to complete nine in a row.

The phenomenal quadruple treble followers, but the wheels came off in spectacular fashion in the ill-fated bid for a tenth consecutive title and the management and squad faced a massive overhaul in the summer of 2021.

Ange Postecoglou came in with the force of a hurricane, turned things around in mesmerising fashion and left two years later, with five domestic trophies secured and a world record eighth domestic clean sweep.

The Greek-Australian left for Spurs 48 hours after the Scottish Cup Final triumph to open the door for a dramatic comeback from Rodgers who was sacked by doomed Leicester City in April.

Former Celtic goal hero Sutton said: “It looks like not everyone is fully on board with Brendan Rodgers coming back to Celtic when you look at the snippy response from the Green Brigade.

“They are not shy about coming forward and voicing their opinions and reappointing the former manager seems to have gone down like a lead balloon with some of them. They’ve made their feelings known – and they can do what they like – but I will ask them this: what is the point?

“What are they going to achieve with negativity at a time when the club would be pulling together after Ange Postecoglou’s departure?

TREBLE AHEAD…Brendan Rodgers with the second of his double clean sweep successes.

“Celtic are the treble winners and the dominant team in Scotland. They have also gone out and got the best possible man for the job in replacing the Aussie. The petted-lip routine from some is a total waste of time.

“If the Celtic board are going to back Rodgers with a big chequebook to make the side even better – then they should give their backing, as well.

“I just don’t get the point of backlash. It was okay to be critical when Rodgers departed last time. Listen, I was critical as well and stand by that criticism.

“But we are four years on. Is Rodgers to be castigated from now until the end of time? Is he to be publicly flogged forever more? What do these fans want?

“It’s taken huge balls to come back to Celtic this soon. It would have been far easier for him to keep his distance and if he really wanted another shot in the hotseat, do it years down the line. Instead, he’s taken the challenge and the fans should at least accept it and look forward to an exciting future.”

Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “Rodgers will face the media and the fans and I’ve heard some people saying he should apologise. Give me a break.

“We know the way he left wasn’t great, with the side in the hunt for a treble, but Neil Lennon managed to finish it off. Rodgers can’t be held accountable for the failure to win 10-in-a-row – it was two years down the line, for goodness sake.

THE WAY AHEAD…Brendan Rodgers speaks to Celtic TV at Lennoxtown.

“I’d imagine the manager will come out and say he regrets the timing of his departure, but it’s water under the bridge and the focus is on what happens next. And that should be it.

“There’s no need to drag him over the coals further. What fans should want to hear is the plans for the future in the short, medium and long term.

“Rodgers has to have been told there is some cash to spend to take the side to the next level. That might be easier said than done, but it’s at least a start. It will be fascinating to seen the dynamic again with him and the club because it’s fair to say it got a bit strained towards the end last time.

“Rodgers felt he wasn’t being backed enough in the transfer market, while Peter Lawwell felt he was thrown under the bus a bit by the boss.

“Lawwell has changed roles, but he still clearly is in a position of power and the fact Rodgers is back suggests something has changed.”

Sutton added: “It’s funny, when you look at the recruitment in his first spell, he didn’t actually spend that much.

“There were big outlays on the likes of Scott Sinclair, Olivier Ntcham and Odsonne Edouard. But when you factor in big money sales such as Moussa Dembele and Stuart Armstrong, Rodgers’ net spend over three windows was less than £10million.

THAT’S MY BHOY…Brendan Rodgers congratulates skipper Scott Brown after another silverware triumph.

“Now the talk is he’ll be handed £30million this summer. Whether that is the case, we’ll need to wait and see. But I am sure the target will be quality rather than quantity.

“He might be looking at the goalkeeper situation with Joe Hart not getting any younger, a centre-back looks a must, I’d imagine another attacking wide player and maybe striker could be on the agenda.

“Does he go and buy three or four £8million or £9million players for these roles? This is not a squad that needs wholesale changes. A lot will depend on who leaves, but I’d suspect some of the players who might have been thinking about a new challenge, must have their minds changed with a new manager of this calibre coming in.

“You only have to look at his track record of improving players. Rodgers took some mild flak about some of his recruitment, along with talent spotter Lee Congerton, but there is absolute no doubt about his abilities as a coach.

“Kieran Tierney, Scott Brown, Stuart Armstrong, Callum McGregor – they were all at the club when he arrived, but Rodgers helped them take their games to another level. The likes of Reo Hatate, Matt O’Riley, Jota and others should be thrilled about the prospect of working under the new boss.”

Looking at the challenge Celtic could face from Ibrox, one-time England international forward Sutton signed off with: “Rodgers is the last guy they want to go up against and I doubt there will be any in the Green Brigade digging out the bedsheets for a protest banner if Celtic bury their rivals again.

“That’s why there’s no point moaning now, they need to get over themselves and behind the boss.”

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