Chris Sutton believes Celtic have found the key for challenging rivals; lauds latest signing

By Euan Davidson

January 21, 2022

Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton is never far from a hot take, but he’s made a pretty reasonable assessment of the club’s new signings, and ability to challenge Rangers to the title.

Sutton, speaking on BT Sport’s Scottish Football Extra, ran the rule over the debuts from Monday night’s win against Hibernian.

Reo Hatate, of course, was named Man of the Match, but Daizen Maeda got off to a scoring debut, while Yosuke Ideguchi impressed late on. It’s encouraging stuff for Celtic fans, but the transfer market productivity didn’t end there.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Matt O’Riley was brought in from MK Dons yesterday, and Sutton believes it’s another good bit of business from the club. These signings getting off to a hot start, Sutton reasoned, was integral to Celtic’s hopes of snatching the title back from Rangers.

Simultaneously winding up Ally McCoist and lavishing praise on the new Bhoys, Chris Sutton said [BT Sport]: “Maeda [got] off the mark [after] what, 3 and a half minutes? 4 minutes?

“Incredible start to his Celtic career. A great start from him. Hatate, he was here and there, he was everywhere! A really impressive performance. And Celtic needed that win just to put the pressure on Rangers and their game at Aberdeen. And we all know what happened there…!

“But the key to Celtic really challenging Rangers was the new signings to hit the ground running.

“I thought that was the end of Postecoglou’s business, but Matt O’Riley coming in from Milton Keynes as well. Clearly [Riley] McGree was first-choice, but from what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard about O’Riley, it’s another attacking midfielder option.

“Celtic are doing decent business!”

Jota and Rogic net awards as O’Riley impresses in early interview | Alloa vs Celtic Preview

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Chris Sutton is bang on; while Celtic conduct excellent business, Rangers have ground to a halt

This January transfer window was always going to be an important one. Both in the context of the 21-22 season, and the rebuild Celtic are conducting at large.

So, it was imperative that the players Ange brought in early doors could make an immediate impact. And alongside Josip Juranovic, you could argue that Maeda and Hatate were vital in our win over Hibernian. Adding former England youth international Matt O’Riley as another option only bolsters the ranks.

Our rivals, meanwhile, have only added James Sands thus far. In losing Nathan Patterson, their squad has become weaker, while ours continues to strengthen through shrewd business and players returning from injury.

Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

So, while it looks a bit like Chris Sutton is noising Ally McCoist up, he’s also making an important point. In any and all circumstances I’d prefer to be a Celtic supporter, but neutrals would surely agree that momentum is with the Hoops right now.

It’s going to be a fascinating title run-in either way. But Celtic have undoubtedly strengthened, and from a position of relative strength anyway.

But will our January recruitment hold the key to toppling Rangers? We’ll have to wait and see.

Read more: “Banter years are back”; Celtic supporters go to town on rivals after embarrassing move