Chris Sutton on the Celtic player he has sympathy for

By Euan Davidson

November 11, 2021

Celtic legend Chris Sutton admits he has sympathy for defensive midfielder Nir Bitton.

Bitton, brought to the club as a defensive midfielder, has been shunted into a centre-back role over recent seasons. He even played in Champions League qualifiers this season in defence, but was sent off against FC Midtjylland.

Ange Postecoglou has brought Bitton back into his natural role, with Celtic winning games against Ferencvaros and Dundee with the Israel international anchoring the midfield.

Sutton, speaking on the Record Celtic Podcast [Acast], said:

“Where I have a bit of sympathy for him, is he came to the club as a central midfielder, and I think we’ve all considered him as a centre-half.

“Remember the joke at the start of every season where Nir Bitton would be playing at centre-half in a Champions League qualifier? And Celtic were always short.

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“But he’s now playing in a position that I think he prefers. Does he do as good a job as McGregor? Absolutely not in there, in terms of the quickness of passing which Celtic require.”

Celtic favourite Chris Sutton realises Nir Bitton has an important role to play this season

Bitton? Being played in his correct position? Surely, we couldn’t dream of such luxuries.

With each display outside of his natural place on the pitch, and the diminishing returns we got from it, it was natural to think that Bitton just might not be that good.

Whether it was the sending off against Rangers, difficulties in Europe – he just wasn’t a good option at centre-back in big matches.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

But with Tom Rogic out, Bitton has allowed Callum McGregor to occupy a more attacking space in the midfield. It’s hardly hampered us thus far, and although Bitton is a slower choice in terms of build-up play, he does a fine enough job.

Postecoglou clearly realises where Bitton’s qualities lie. With enough centre-backs to cover for Carl Starfelt, there’s simply no need to force Bitton into a role that frankly, he’s not good at.

Celtic man Chris Sutton gets it. Is he as good as Callum McGregor? No. But it’s ridiculous to expect top performances from a player outside of where he excels.

Read more: “Massive disruption”; Outspoken English pundit thinks Celtic boss Postecoglou will be celebrating today