Chris Sutton feels Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou was right to call out the players for their poor performance against Sydney FC. The Bhoys succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the A-League side, which left an irascible Postecoglou reeling on Thursday.
The manager was looking forward to showcasing the talented team he had built since moving to Glasgow’s East End, becoming all the more disappointing when we never showed up in our opening clash Down Under. Sutton agrees with the response to his squad that Ange took, insisting it’s a crucial element to what’s inherent within this Celtic side’s DNA.
Writing in his Daily Record column, he stated: “Ange Postecoglou gave his Celtic squad a bit of a battering after they lost their bounce game with Sydney FC in Australia. But the players shouldn’t be feeling sorry for themselves that their manager dug them out in public after a meaningless friendly. They should be grateful.
“I have no problem whatsoever at Postecoglou’s criticism of the side following the defeat. It just shows he cares about the performance, whether it’s in the Champions League, the Premiership, some exhibition match or even in training. The manager has set the standards and he won’t allow them to sip regardless of the scenario.
“Fair play to him. It would have been easy to shrug the shoulders and write off the display as down to jet lag to whatever. I’m sure a few in the dressing room might have had their nose put out of joint given the exhausting schedule Celtic have come through before heading Down Under.
Signing off for the break with a nine point lead over theRangers is a superb return, regardless of the disappointment the results – if not the performances – in the Champions League. But they should remember it’s this relentless attitude that’s got Celtic to this point and there’s no room to slack off. Even in friendlies.”
The Celtic great pointed to the players that were given a rare chance to impress the boss and came up well short of requirements against the mid-table Australian club. He said: “Postecoglou would have wanted to put on a bit of a show in front of his home crowd but the side didn’t do the business.
A few of them – like Yosuke Ideguchi and Oliver Abildgaard – finally got opportunities but they didn’t do themselves any favours. The message from the manager was loud and clear. If you don’t produce the goods, you won’t be part of his plans. Postecoglou will demand a reaction against Everton in the early hours of Sunday morning.”
Next up is English Premier League side Everton and Sutton himself is no stranger to those tasty encounters that are perpetually dubbed “The Battle of Britain”. On our way to the UEFA Cup Final in 2003, we beat Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool, with Sutton scoring against his old team at Ewood Park on the away leg to help seal our place in the next round that night.
He also alluded to our fiery friendly against Manchester United back in 2001. He continued: “The message from the manager was loud and clear. If you don’t produce the goods, you won’t be part of his plans. Postecoglou will demand a reaction against Everton in the early hours of Sunday morning.
“The players should too. I know we used to really enjoy coming up against English teams in these kinds of games. Let’s be honest, we know they look down on the Scottish game, and we knew it back then as well. We saw it as a chance to stick two fingers up at them for once. I took great delight in those regular encounters against the likes of QPR and Fulham when we’d wipe the floor with them. The games against the big boys even more so. Everyone remembers the Manchester United game at Old Trafford when we slapped down David Beckham and co.”
He added: “Listen, everyone knows these matches don’t really matter a jot in the grand scheme of things. If Celtic go on and retain the title, there won’t be a single fan talking about a D-list team going down to the A-League outfit. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be taken seriously at the time. Especially when there’s the Scotland v England factor involved.”