Chris Sutton delivers early title verdict; urges patience on summer Celtic signing

By Dave Flanigan

July 30, 2022

Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton has backed the Hoops to bring the title home again this season, and named three of the players he sees as key to the team’s success.

Ange Postecoglou’s side wrestled the Scottish Premiership trophy back from their city rivals last season, meaning that Celtic have won 10 of the 11 titles on offer.

In his column for The Daily Record, Sutton wrote: “I expect they will be capable of handling it and I have them as slight favourites, even though Rangers, as last season, will be strong and tough challengers. Postecoglou’s team really kicked on after the winter break last season to get their hands on the main prize and the January arrivals of O’Riley and Hatate were a big part of that.

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“I see the pair of them as vital to the manager’s ambitions for this term. Callum McGregor is the fulcrum. The captain is central not just to the midfield but to the whole set-up.

“Unless someone is bought or Aaron Mooy is seen as a potential stand-in, Celtic are going to have to hope their skipper stays sound and in form for the majority of the season because he is the one guy in the set-up just now who they really can’t do without.

“O’Riley and Hatate, to my eye, look the first choices beside McGregor and they are going to have to back him up. From what I’ve seen, they are capable. More than capable.”

Sutton also suggested that new signing Alexaxandro Bernabei will have to bide his time for an opportunity in the side, with Greg Taylor still first choice despite the talented Argentine’s signing.

He wrote: “Alexandro Bernabei has been signed to challenge at left-back, but it’s early days and he’s looked a little unsure so far. That’s perfectly understandable.”

“The Argentine is settling into a new system in new surroundings and it’ll take time, so I feel Greg Taylor will start.”

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has a wealth of options at his disposal for tomorrow’s Scottish Premiership curtain raiser against Aberdeen, with only Carl Starfelt and Yosuke Ideguchi set to miss the match against the Dons.

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Bernabei’s time will certainly come, and Greg Taylor’s reliability means that the Argentine will have plenty scope to settle into his new surroundings before being called upon consistently.

In contrast to last season when Celtic kicked off with a depleted squad with more expected to leave, the Australian will take a settled side into the new campaign, with signs looking positive for Celtic’s chances of retaining their title.

In other news: Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou’s first media zinger of the new season.