Opinion: Sutton Named His 9IAR XI, But These Players Would Have To Make The Bench

Yesterday, The Celtic Star reported on Chris Sutton’s nine in a row XI. It’s a team that few could argue with, packed with quality all over the park. However, it’s harsh on many great players who missed out, so in my opinion the following are worthy of a spot on the bench.

Victor Wanyama:

Dominating against Barca

Wanyama’s goal against Barca

Wanyama was an absolute rock in the centre of midfield. He was pivotal in the Champions League run to the last 16 in 2012/13, including a superb performance and goal against Barcelona. On the domestic front, Wanyama scored a crucial late strike against Hearts in December 2011, which set up the chance to overturn a 17 point deficit with victory over Rangers on 28th of that month. So good were his performances, that he earned a move to Southampton, where he starred in the Premier League and went on to Spurs. Injury ruined his time in London, but he did play in a Champions League Semi-Final.

Craig Gordon:

When he first signed for the club he had a superb season, barring disaster against Inter Milan. Gordon revived his career after several years out with injury and was a key an in the Invincible treble / double treble seasons. His performances caught the eye of Chelsea, who hoped to sign him as their third choice keeper a couple of years ago.

Kris Commons:

Commons hit the ground running when he signed for the Hoops, scoring six minutes into his debut. The goal was one of several long range strikes to find the back of the net in that campaign, whilst he also scored in his first two Glasgow derby’s, once at Ibrox and once at Paradise. In Neil Lennon’s last season at the helm, he was top scorer and player of the year with over 30 goals in the season. Commons was also monumental in Europe, scoring the winning goal against Spartak Moscow that sent Celtic through to the UCL last 16, as well as hitting a long range beauty against Shaktar Karagandy in the UCL play offs.

Tom Rogic:

Rogic Scores the Winner in the 2017 Scottish Cup Final

Arguably the most talented player at the club when fit and on form. Tom Rogic has bagged some absolute screamers in his time at Parkhead. He loves a Glasgow derby goal, having found the net countless times against The Rangers FC, whilst he also scored the goal that won Celtic the Invincible treble in dramatic circumstances.

Gary Hooper:

Unlucky to miss out in the first XI, Gary Hooper was prolific for the club. He scored vital goals in Europe against Udinese and Spartak Moscow both home and away, meanwhile he scored five goals in a single match against Hearts one trophy day. Hooper racked up 63 goals in 82 games, absolutely remarkable! Incredibly, only one of those goals came from outside the penalty area, against Rangers on 29 April 2012. Perhaps his finest afternoon for the club came a year earlier, when he scored a brace against the same opposition as Celtic beat the enemy 3-0 in February 2011.

Scott Sinclair:

Scotty Sinclair makes it 2-0 from the penalty spot.

A big capture from Aston Villa, Scott Sinclair rekindled the confidence of old when he teamed up with Brendan Rodgers. He was top scorer in his first two seasons at the club and player of the year in his debut campaign. Sinclair was crucial to the step up in the pace of our play and was an outstanding talent. He lost his way towards the end, but for that first season he was phenomenal.

Charlie Mulgrew / Ryan Christie:

The final spot on the bench was a battle between Mulgrew and Christie. Ryan Christie has been phenomenal this season, having improved dramatically after his loan spell at Aberdeen. The midfielder has bags of energy and has scored in cup finals and Europe. There’s no question that given another season, he would have to be included in the first XI. However, I’m conscious that the bench is full of attacking players and is yet to include a defender. As such, the prodigal son, Charlie Mulgrew has to be included too.

Charlie Mulgrew salutes the Celtic fans

Mulgrew was deadly with his corner kicks and free kick deliveries. Celtic used this to their advantage in Europe, scoring goals from his set pieces against Benfica and Barcelona twice. He was a highly versatile player, featuring at Left mid, left back, even centre half and he did not slack… as the song goes. His finest season came during the first title of the nine in a row. He scored a goal in the come back against Kilmarnock (3-3 game) and he also found the net at Rugby Park on title winning day, before dispatching a diving header against Rangers at the end of that season. His performances that season earned him the club’s player of the year award.

Other honorable mentions should go to Emilio Izaguirre and Stefan Johansen, both of whom won player of the year awards at Celtic. However, from a personal point of view, I rate the above ahead of them. A mention should also be made for Antony Stokes, who formed a great partnership with Hooper and had a very decent goal record.

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up in Bournemouth with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic as a young child during the Martin O'Neill era. Still living on the south coast, I have a season ticket at Paradise and also travel to European away matches when possible. At the age of 19, I published my first Celtic book (Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support). Then, last year, I published my second book (Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events), which is sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores.

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