Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton expressed his frustrations at Celtic not pulling their weight in Europe, pointing at other teams who can still qualify from their tough groups.
He also raised concerns about the current state of Celtic’s squad, following their recent defeat in the Champions League to Lazio. This loss, part of a broader pattern of setbacks in Europe, has led Sutton to question the team’s competitiveness at the highest level.
Sutton highlighted the challenges faced by manager Brendan Rodgers, whose team only managed a solitary point in a 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid at Parkhead. The campaign was marred by heavy defeats, including a 6-0 thrashing in Madrid and a disheartening loss to Lazio in Rome. Additionally, Celtic’s struggles were compounded by on-field discipline issues, notably in their match against Feyenoord, where two players were sent off.
He wrote in the Daily Record:
“Celtic look weak and timid in the Champions League. Worryingly for them, I’m beginning to wonder if others aren’t scared of them on the home front anymore and they are losing some of their own fear factor.
“Brendan Rodgers might not be able to fix the first one of those. But the manager definitely needs to find a way to quickly reinstate the second because the club are walking a tightrope at the moment and can’t afford to stumble.
“Let’s deal with Europe first. Given the fall-out from the Champions League exit, we’ve heard all the predictable statements following the similarly predictable outcome in Rome.
“Celtic’s defeat to Lazio was just another in the long line of setbacks which have come my old club’s way on the continent. Rodgers spoke afterwards about needing to add quality to the ranks to compete at that level and that is obvious.
“Trouble is, how much do you need? Quite frankly, clubs have spent tens of millions to try and make an impact and failed.”
Reflecting on the broader context, Sutton compared Celtic’s European track record to other clubs like FC Copenhagen, who have managed to stay competitive in groups with heavyweights like Bayern Munich and Manchester United.
“Celtic couldn’t win a game last season when they were better prepared. They haven’t won a game this season with less impressive preparation.
“Now let’s get one thing straight. I’m not saying they should just give up. Just accept you are going to lose. You have to be able to land a few blows now and again and get some positive results to sprinkle around now and again.
“But, in the longer term and over the course of a section, maybe Celtic just aren’t going to get there and be consistently successful. Maybe this is how it is going to be going forward. Qualify, get the money and go straight back out again.
“That’s very painful to say because I look at a team like FC Copenhagen going into the final match with a chance to qualify from a group which includes Bayern Munich and Manchester United.
“But I can’t seriously look at the record of Celtic over the past 10 years in the competition, put my hand on my heart and say they can definitely emulate the Danes because, unless something radically changes, the evidence tells me I’d be talking rubbish.
“It’s not just a quick fix, either. Celtic are weaker than last season and have regressed. The squad’s going to take a lot of work to reach a level needed to make a serious impact in the competition.
“Mind you, at this point, any impact at all would be half decent. Like winning a game. But I watched events in Rome and felt they looked light on quality, light on physicality and light on belief.
“Some of them also looked fearful as they toiled to get at a home team which, in truth, wasn’t much cop on the night. Hopefully, Celtic can get a victory over Feyenoord and instil some much-needed confidence as well as getting a 10-year home winless monkey off their backs.”