Chris Sutton hails "remarkable" Postecoglou and Celtic progress
Chris Sutton, master of the back-handed compliment, has praised Ange Postecoglou and Celtic for making the Europa League Group Stages.
It certainly didn’t look a sure thing. Drawn against an impressive side in AZ Alkmaar, Celtic perhaps surprised with a 2-0 win at home. There was even a third for the Bhoys in the tie, with Kyogo finding the net just barely after kick-off.
However, defensive mistakes came in bunches. Joe Hart had an uncharacteristic first half, reacting poorly to a dreadful pass from Stephen Welsh. Then Starfelt, himself under pressure, scored an inexplicable own goal.
But the improvement in the defence after half-time was marked. John Hartson said as much himself, whereas Sutton reflected on the bigger picture for Celtic.
The former Bhoys striker Sutton said [Premier Sports]:
“That was a hard, hard watch, Celtic making their own problems, a couple of horrendous errors. The start to the second half was remarkable, Celtic giving the ball away from kick-off. First couple of minutes, giving the ball away numerous times, inviting pressure.
“In fairness, Joe Hart second half I thought was excellent for Celtic. Odsonne Edouard made a difference.
“Looking at the picture as a whole, since Ange [Postecoglou] has come in, I do think it’s major progress for Celtic, getting into the group stage of the Europa League. Because of the mess that he walked into, [it’s] remarkable.”
Celtic’s Statler and Waldorf, Hartson and Sutton, full of praise for Postecoglou and his Bhoys after Europa League progression
You know that had AZ won the tie, Hartson and Sutton wouldn’t have held back. So to hear Sutton offering some distinct praise for Ange Postecoglou – while criticising the club – was probably something that really resonated with supporters.
Because, yes; Postecoglou walked into a disaster at Celtic. Fans were demanding swift change, we didn’t know which players were staying, and there seemed to be to be little positive momentum at the club as a whole.
Now, the picture looks brighter. Champions League qualification would’ve been a lot to ask. Negotiating the Europa League qualifiers, against a very strong AZ team, represented a similar challenge.
Yet, Postecoglou negotiated it.
We now have Thursday night Europa League action to look forward to. Given what Postecoglou started the summer with, that is an achievement.