Chris Sutton and Kris Commons have both enjoyed the complete adoration of Celtic supporters in the past.
Both prolific goal-scorers, they lived out every fan’s dream: hearing the roar of a full Parkhead after beating the opposition goalie.
In fact, both players had their careers revitalised by Celtic. Sutton, although a golden boot winner in England, arrived at Celtic off the back of a difficult spell at Chelsea.
Commons cemented his place in Scotland squads and proved that he could be the focal point of a title-winning side.
However, with their recent comments in the press, they run the risk of further alienating a fanbase that showed them nothing but love as players.
“I can’t defend that”
Admitting that his pal Neil Lennon was struggling badly, Sutton told BT Sport:
They look disjointed, disorganised and, he’s my mate, but he’s in big trouble. I can’t defend that – it was a hopeless, hopeless performance.
I know that the board have backed him, but they have a decision to make. The last time a (Celtic) manager was on this bad a run was Tony Mowbray. Ronny Deila failed in Europe too.
All of this, after calling the Green Brigade “idiots” for their display outside Celtic Park this week, in a Daily Record podcast.
Sutton described the protest as “shameful” and “unwarranted”. Whatever your take on the Green Brigade’s display, we can safely say the “unwarranted” part of Sutton’s outburst is now redundant, given his own comments.
Being the chief Celtic pundit in recent years, Sutton has never held back when offering his opinion on the team’s performances, good or bad. He’s given praise when it’s been due, and vehement criticism when it’s had its place.
You could argue that through his media appearances, he led the charge for the dismissal of Ronny Deila during the 15-16 campaign.
Kris Commons also offered a stinging rebuke to the Green Brigade, telling TALKSPORT:
I think it’s a minute group of supporters who did that. I think they are quick to forget everything Neil has done for the club in the last decade.
Alienating the fans
Ignoring almost the entirety of the Green Brigade’s press release, Commons fed into a narrative that’s currently popular with pundits: the fans don’t know what they’re talking about.
Celtic fans are amongst the most dedicated and passionate in the world game. It’s a point often made but bears repeating; nobody in the Celtic support enjoys criticising Neil Lennon.
The Green Brigade, who by the way continue to do excellent charity work and are first to receive plaudits during the good times, are not immune from criticism. On this occasion, however, the repeated attempts to besmirch the Ultras’ name when they’re speaking out about the club they spend their wages supporting are shameful.
Even if you’re one of the Celtic fans who claim that the Green Brigade don’t speak for the majority, it’s surely still important to realise that ex-pros attacking sections of the support looks bad for everyone.
A screeching U-Turn
It becomes even more unpalatable when Sutton tweets stuff like this:
Hard for Neil Lennon to see this out after that.
— Chris Sutton (@chris_sutton73) November 26, 2020
Let me be clear: you’ll do well to find a Celtic supporter with more good words to say about Chris Sutton. I think the guy is spot on much of the time, and he also earns elite status as the first Celtic player I ever met (the week of the second leg against Boavista in 2003, if you’re wondering).
He’s entertaining, and for as much as he can be controversial, when it comes to football he can back up his opinions. He’s by no means a rent-a-quote or a shill.
Equally, it’s obvious he loves the club. But since he’s a freelance football journalist, he has no real need to attack the fans. He doesn’t gain anything from it in any real sense.
He has form in calling out Celtic bosses when they’re getting it wrong, so to see his screeching U-turn last night was hard to stomach.
Sad to see, sad to read, sad to hear
Kris Commons continues to do himself no favours amongst the Celtic support, and it’s very sad to see him openly court criticism from a fanbase that gave him so much.
We’re not asking pundits to be universally appreciative of every opinion from every supporter but, come on. It’s a bit much at this stage. Especially from two of the most vocal Ronny Deila critics.
The parallels between Lennon and Deila’s last seasons are obvious. It’s hypocritical from both Commons and Sutton to be reticent in offering that same criticism Lennon’s way, when the tactics, the shape and the mentality at Celtic is so clearly below par.
Both would do well to admit their mistakes, and give back to the Celtic supporters by admitting that we might have an idea of what we’re talking about. God knows, we were there for them.