Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton has described Ange Postecoglou’s task of reaching the Champions League and winning back the SPFL title as “impossible”. The hoops hero also said that Celtic’s new boss should be given “a year of grace” before being judged on his abilities.
It is very rare that a club like Celtic accepts anything less than total demand for immediate success, particularly in a season when the league champions gain automatic qualification to the Champions League group stage. However, Sutton feels that such expectation would be unfair on the Australian, who has only been at Lennoxtown for a week, given the circumstances that he has inherited at Celtic Park.
Sutton was speaking on the Record Celtic podcast when he made the remarks, explaining that it will take time to right the wrongs of last season.
The Englishman said: “Look, from the outside, in my opinion, he needs a year. He needs a year of grace to come in and implement his own style and plans – and bring in his own players.
“What he’s been dealt at this moment in time, frankly, most managers would turn their back on. I think it’s impossible.
“If Celtic get beat by Midtjylland, I wouldn’t blame the manager at all. I’d blame the club’s hierarchy for dawdling and being strung along, however you want to word it, by Eddie Howe.
“He needs time to develop, nurture and implement his own plans. There’s a lot been said about how he’s managed in Australia and Japan and his supposed lack of credentials – this is a guy who’s managed in a World Cup.
“He’s managed his national team, he’s won titles. He needs to be given a bit more respect than that.”
Many people have noted that Steven Gerrard was given three years across the city before he finally won a trophy. He rebuilt a team at Ibrox, whilst Celtic wrapped up two consecutive trebles. The reverse of that situation is not acceptable for the Hoops and the target of being league champions is the absolute minimum ambition this term. Yet, if that target is not achieved, then there may need to be some understanding from the board when it comes to Postecoglou’s position. After all, an ambition is very different from the reality of the tools available to achieve that end goal.
Perhaps Sutton has a valid point, but it’s not a view that can be allowed to enter the psyche at the club until the board assesses things at the end of next season. Meanwhile, the fans will continue to demand the best and make an informed judgement of their own when the time is right. For now, no matter the circumstances, it must be full steam ahead to try and win back the league championship.