Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton is looking forward to an “interesting” first season with Sky Sports as Brendan Rodgers returns with “a point to prove.”
The Northern Irishman is back in charge at Parkhead after Ange Postecoglou made the switch to Tottenham Hotspur after a treble-winning season.
He has made five new signings so far, while influential winger Jota has left the Scottish Champions for the Saudi Pro League.
Rodgers enjoyed a perfect domestic record during his first spell as Celtic manager, winning two Scottish Premiership titles, two Scottish Cups and three League Cups.
Ahead of their season opener against Ross County, live on Sky Sports, we asked Chris Sutton to assess what the fans can expect…
I’m like everyone else I read up about them and watch them on YouTube, but I looked good on YouTube at Chelsea so you can’t read too much into that because there is always a positive spin on them.
The fact Hyun-Jun Yang was Young Player of the Year in the Korean league bodes well. Maik Nawrocki looks, from what I’ve seen, accomplished on the ball and I think defence is an area where Celtic did need to strengthen.
There’s a reason Celtic are signing these players, they will have their reputations and Brendan likes to develop players.
Are they going to miss Jota? Of course, he was a unique player in the way that he actually played the game. Do Celtic have a like-for-like replacement? No, but there’s always an opportunity for somebody to come in and show their best attributes.
We didn’t see the best of Liel Abada last season. His numbers were still good and he’s only young and will feel he’s got a point to prove.
Other players have another year of experience and development so Celtic aren’t in a bad position at all.
You are always looking to add and that does become an issue the closer you get to the start of the season as new players then don’t have time to bed in. They have to make sure that the performance levels are high and they hit the ground running. It’s not always easy.
Rodgers’ style vs Postecoglou
From what we’ve seen in pre-season, there is a difference in Brendan’s style to Ange Postecoglou’s style in terms of the inverted full-backs.
There has been a fair bit made about the changes as people enjoyed watching Ange’s team play their fast-flowing football. They do forget they also enjoyed Brendan’s team play the first time around, especially the invincible season.
In terms of the demands that Celtic make, they’ve always been pretty much the same. Celtic are expected to take the game to the opposition and try and attack and I don’t think that that mindset will change at all under Brendan.
Will Celtic continue their dominance?
Going into every season you just don’t know what to expect. There are so many different aspects which can come into the equation, recruitment is a really important part of that and both managers will hope that they’ve absolutely nailed it.
Celtic did it under Postecoglou and look at the impact that that had on his team.
He took over a side in decline, they were falling apart. I remember watching a game in pre-season where they lost 6-2 and he’s talking about playing this particular brand of football. I’m thinking that’s great, but how on earth on you going to do that in a short space of time? He did it through clever recruitment and really excellent coaching. They were a joy to watch.
It’s different for Brendan this time around in terms of the team he’s taken over, he’s taken over a treble-winning team.
I don’t think anybody would argue that Brendan isn’t a good appointment, they would just argue the fact that he should never have left when he did and I thought he was wrong to do that.
I do though admire the fact he’s come back with a point to prove.
Is Brendan a good coach? Absolutely. Is he taking over a good team? Yes, albeit he is a player down and the standards of Postecoglou were so high.
We know Glasgow is unforgiving and there can only be one winner so it’s going to be a really interesting season.
Michael Beale will have learned from last season, he was quite bullish coming in and I think he ended the season with his tail between his legs.
He will have learned from last season’s League Cup final and Scottish Cup final defeats to Celtic and his “lucky Ange” comments.
Rangers have some seriously good players and so do to Celtic so I think it’ll be close this season.
The most important thing is Celtic start strongly as they don’t have the burden of the Champions League qualifiers while Rangers do.
Will Brendan Rodgers win over his doubters?
There will always be an element of the support who won’t be happy with an appointment, no matter who it is.
You could get Pep Guardiola at Celtic and if he loses his first four games they’ll say he’s a dud. That’s just the way it is.
I didn’t see Brendan coming back because of the way he left and because of the anger from the fans, but I think it’s really admirable that he looked beyond that.
He’s come back and will have a big point to prove and I think it makes it absolutely fascinating.
The sensible thing to do from every aspect of the Celtic fan base is to get behind the team.
It’s not going to be good at the first game of the season against Ross County live on Sky Sports if there’s an element within the support, who have negative banners about the appointment or signing songs against him.
What good does that do for team on the pitch? The most important thing everybody wants the team to win.
Dermot Desmond made a brave appointment and, on the face of it, nobody is doubting Brendan’s ability as a manager.
Making an impact in Europe
We say the same every year and it’s so difficult. I actually enjoyed some aspects of last season’s Champions League campaign, despite Celtic not managing to win a group match.
Brendan had some harrowing nights during his first spell at Celtic, but he’s talked about learning from his experiences in the Premier League. Leicester City beat Manchester City 5-2 and he spoke about adapting in that game where they became more of a counter-attacking team.
That suggests he’ll set up a little bit differently and be a little bit more cautious.
I do think that the home form has to improve. I get sick and tired of going to Celtic Park and telling everyone it’s great on a Champions League night and then they don’t perform.
It’s really important to get that fear factor back as I’m fed up just going there for the music!
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