Sutton now owes Griffiths an apology; previously blamed him for Celtic's poor season
Leigh Griffiths may be no saint, but the Celtic man deserves one big apology in hindsight after the finger of blame was pointed at him for our dreadful start to the season by Chris Sutton.
Last month after Celtic were battered 4-1 off Sparta Prague at Parkhead, Griffiths was vilified by BT Sport pundit Sutton. The former Parkhead hero said the following in the Daily Record:
“Leigh Griffiths has killed Neil Lennon in many respects. That period when the season shut down for Covid where Leigh Griffiths let himself go and was out of shape, and then he was left out of the mini pre-season. A fit Leigh Griffiths would give Celtic a much better option when Odsonne Edouard is on.
“The fact he can only play a few minutes of games isn’t good enough. He’s a player who needs to have a good long hard look at himself and think had he actually conditioned himself better, had he actually looked after himself better, Celtic could be in a far better place.”
Griffiths has hardly had a stunning start to the season. With only three goals and only one start to his name this term, he’s hardly being entrusted by his manager. And whilst he spent the first seven league games out injured, he did manage to come back and save Lennon’s skin against St Johnstone and Aberdeen respectively.
Also, remember, Griffiths was fit and good to go at the start of the season. He impressed in our final pre-season friendly vs Hibs before he picked up a nasty ankle set-back.
There were always bigger problems at Celtic than Griffiths
Now, and I appreciate hindsight is wonderful etc etc, it’s become clear that Griffiths is by no means the biggest problem this season.
Had he come back fit and firing, yes he may have gotten a few extra goals, but he most certainly didn’t “kill” Neil Lennon so far this year. The manager has done that to himself with some baffling team selections and in-game decisions.
It wasn’t Griffiths’ fault, for example, that the Hoops conceded eight goals in two games against Sparta Prague. It isn’t Griffiths’ fault that the siv-like defence hasn’t managed to keep a clean sheet in 11 games.
In fact, Griffiths did his bit with a fine goal at Pittodrie and attempted to spark a revival at home to Sparta Prague when he was given the chance. Even yesterday against St Johnstone, Griff was finally allowed some more minutes and looked lively just in front of David Turnbull.
Yet in all three games mentioned there, it was the backline that cost us. Dreadful defensive blunders that Griffiths had no responsibility for. He can’t make Jeremie Frimpong see the man that’s getting in behind him. He can’t force Kristoffer Ajer not to give away stupid penalties for clumsy barges.
These are all factors that have “killed” Neil Lennon this season. To lay that blame largely at Griffiths’ door as Sutton did was unfair at the time. Now, however, it’s even more clear just how deep the problems at Celtic lie. And let’s be clear, not one of them involves Leigh Griffiths.