CHRIS SUTTON is tipping his old club Celtic to win their third successive title – if they hit the ground running.
The former goal hero also reckons returning boss Brendan Rodgers has a point to prove after four and a half years away from the club.
The Irishman took over as Ronny Deila’s successor in May 2016 and won a phenomenal seven successive domestic trophies during a whirlwind spell before being lured back across the border to Leicester City in February 2019.
But Sutton rates Rodgers highly and believes he will pick up where he left off by getting back among the silverware with the Premiership crown his priority.
PARADISE…Brendan Rodgers feels at home as Celtic manager.
Kris Boyd, his Sky Sports sidekick, doesn’t agree and he insists his ex-Ibrox club will break the Hoops’ stranglehold on the flag they have won eleven times in the past 12 years.
The one-time Scotland international striker reckons Rodgers is going to encounter turbulence second time around.
Sutton said: “It’s very different for Brendan Rodgers this time around in terms of the team he’s taken over, he’s taken over a treble-winning team.
“I don’t think anybody would argue that Brendan isn’t a good appointment and he’s come back with a point to prove.
“Is Brendan a good coach? Absolutely. Is he taking over a good team? Yes, albeit he is a player down and the standards of Postecoglou were so high.
“We know Glasgow is unforgiving and there can only be one winner, so it’s going to be a really interesting season.
“The most important thing is Celtic start strongly as they don’t have the burden of the Champions League qualifiers while Rangers do.”
However, Boyd, speaking to the satellite broadcasters, replied: “Brendan Rodgers has been here before – he knows exactly what to expect – he only lost once against Rangers in his last spell in Scotland.
WE’RE BEHIND YOU…Brendan Rodgers with the Celtic fans during the James Forrest Testimonial Match.
“I’m sure Brendan will feel he can be all-conquering again, but if it doesn’t start well and there are points dropped, the ones who were vocal about him coming back won’t take long to find their voices.
“There is no doubt Brendan is an outstanding manager and Celtic have done really well to get him after Ange Postecoglou moving on because I don’t think there are many who would have backed themselves to take over from his success.
“It’s safe to say Brendan Rodgers isn’t lacking in confidence, but if Rangers find a way to beat them consistently this season it will be a very different season for him.”
Sutton thinks the best the Govan club can do are complete the campaign as runners-up, the same scenario as last season.
The former Hoops hitman said: “Michael Beale will have learned from last season, he was quite bullish coming in and I think he ended the season with his tail between his legs.
“He will have taken a lot from last season’s League Cup Final and Scottish Cup semi-final defeats to Celtic and his ‘lucky Ange’ comments. Rangers have some seriously good players and so do to Celtic, so I think it’ll be close this season.
“Rangers have brought a lot of players in, but it’s all about whether they come in and hit the ground running.”
SCOURGE OF GOVAN…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates the first of his double in the Viaplay League Cup Final against Michaele Beale’s side at Hampden in February. Greg Taylor joins in the joy. The Japanese hitman struck five goals against the Ibrox side last season.
Boyd added: “Rangers won the last Old Firm game of last season and they need to find a way to start winning these meetings on a regular basis to go and challenge for trophies.
“Rangers have been playing second fiddle to Celtic for a number of years and they need to rectify that quickly as when you’re not winning big games and not delivering trophies it can become an issue.
“The club have backed Michael Beale in the summer and they’ll need to deliver. The fixtures have been kind to Rangers at the start of the season and it gives them an opportunity.
“If they can go to win the games up until that Old Firm then you’re able to beat Celtic at home, then you never know.”
Champions Celtic kick off their bid for a hat-trick of championship against Ross County at Parkhead at 12.30pm tomorrow.
Beale’s Ibrox outfit will travel to Ayrshire to play Kilmarnock at Rugby Park with a 5.15pm start. Both games will be shown live on Sky Sports.