CHRIS SUTTON insists Celtic’s critics “don’t have the first clue about football” if they lump Ange Postecoglou’s side in with Scotland’s other European also-rans.
Ultimately, the Hoops came up short with a mere two points from a possible 15 in their Champions League quest which saw the trapdoor to oblivion collapse under the weight of failure.
The Parkhead side travel to the Bernabeu on Wednesday night to take on reigning European kings Real Madrid in an encounter that is meaningless in terms of points.
Postecoglou’s men do not even have the hope of a consolation place in the Europa League after three defeats and two draws in the first five games in their section which also includes RB Leipzig, who won home and away against Celtic, and Shakhtar Donetsk, who provided stern opposition in a couple of 1-1 stalemates.
FRUSTRATION…Ange Postecoglou can’t disguise his feelings after a miss against Shakhtar Donetsk.
However, former goal hero Sutton reckons his old club and their Greek-Australian gaffer deserve praise for their efforts at Europe’s elite level.
The one-time England international forward said: “Listen, I’m not running around throwing flowers at Celtic because, at the end of the day, they will finish bottom of Group F. Football is a results business and, if you don’t get them, it is right that performances are scrutinised and displays analysed.
“That’s the problem. I don’t see much analysis. People are generalising Scottish football and just lumping results all into one bracket. Wrong. Coming out with phrases like disaster and humiliating for all. It is lazy and it is stupid.
“I’m hearing pundits south of the border making statements about the Scottish game being fourth tier and it’s just plain ignorance. If that wasn’t bad enough, my old pal Ally McCost agreed with one of them this week. Are you joking, Ally?
SIT-DOWN STRIKER…Giorgos Giakoumakis thumps the ball into the Ukrainians’ net to put Celtic ahead.
MUSCLING IN…Giorgos Giakoumakis displays his raw power as he celebrates his strike.
“Postecoglou is trying to implement a style and adopt a positive approach that can make Celtic better in Europe now and the future. He said they were going to try and play their way and they have done so.
“Fair enough, they are out, but you cannot seriously tell me they have been outclassed or out of their depth or been cannon fodder? Could you look at any of the five performances that Postecoglou’s team have put up and called them a disaster? Or a nightmare?
“If you do, if you match them up and lazily stick them in the same basket with Rangers’ weak performance in Amsterdam, or lack of ambition at Anfield, or capitulation at home to Liverpool, or Motherwell losing to Sligo, Dundee United’s seven in Alkmaar, you either didn’t watch the games or you don’t have the first clue about football.”
Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “The improvements in Celtic since Postecoglou took over are stark. They were an absolute shambles in the Europa League the year before he took over.
HAIL THE HERO…Filipe Jota celebrates his strike in the 3-1 loss to RB Leipzig in Germany.
“Last season’s effort offered signs of what he was trying to do and they have been brave enough to take it into the bigger stage.
“Fine margins. That’s what it is. You can’t expect to go into the competition with a fresh batch of players and set the world alight. It is going to take time, but the key is to put the right things in place. Stay true to the beliefs and build from there.
“Did you watch Shakhtar Donetsk the other night? The bravery they displayed in playing out from the back was exemplary and even made Postecoglou look positively cautious. But that’s the point. It’s trying to do it right and they got their rewards.
“They haven’t taken points from Real Madrid and hammered RB Leipzig just for nothing. They are growing as a young side and have an exceptional talent at the top of the pitch in Mykhaylo Mudryk. Guys like him are those fine margins at Champions League level.
“Mudryk had three chances in two games against Celtic. He smashed two of them past Joe Hart and put the third on an absolute plate for his sub colleague Danylo Sinak to miss the easiest chance I’ve ever seen squandered.
OH, GEE…Reo Hatate sends in the angled drive for the goal in the 1-1 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw.
“Mudryk was clinical. That’s why Shakhtar are still able to qualify and Celtic not. Fine margins.”
It is also worth remembering Celtic’s record in the Europa League in the campaign before Postecoglou arrived as Neil Lennon’s successor.
They lost 4-1 home and away against Sparta Prague, flopped 3-1 to AC Milan in the east end of Glasgow and blew a two-goal advantage in the San Siro before meekly surrendering to a 4-2 loss.
In the midst of this pitiful mediocrity, Postecoglou has made some brave decisions. Hopefully, the rewards aren’t too far away.