'Big, big risk' – Sutton points finger of blame at senior Celtic figure after summer transfers
By James Black
Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton believes Brendan Rodgers has taken a massive risk in not securing a new defender before the transfer window slammed shut at midnight on Thursday.
In his Daily Record column on Saturday, Sutton took aim at the treble-winning manager’s attempt to shore up his defence, saying: “I am utterly miffed at the failure to sign a centre-back in the final week of the window.
“Celtic, to my mind, have taken a big, big risk with this.”
The Hoops have struggled recently in defence with Israeli midfielder Nir Bitton filling in at the back as Dedryck Boyata and Erik Sviatchenko have been missing through injury.
Jozo Simunovic and Boyata appear to be Rodgers’ first-choice pairing but keeping both fit throughout the season will be a challenge and Sutton feels Rodgers should have taken steps to bring in cover for the duo.
Subscribe to Football Insider TV now
Celtic were on the brink of signing South African international defender Rivaldo Coetzee from Ajax Cape Town, however the 20-year-old’s move fell through after failing a medical.
Sutton admits he was left “puzzled” by Celtic’s failure to secure an alternative when Coetzee’s transfer broke down.
Celtic have already had to throw Bitton in as a central defender in Champions League qualifiers, but with Anderlecht, Bayern Munich and PSG to face in the group stages, Sutton believes the club should have done more to recruit a defender.
He said: “Celtic’s arrival back into the group stages of the Champions League has put another £30million into the coffers and it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think they could have pushed the boat a little more for a defender.”
Celtic do have a number of young centre-backs at the club with Kris Ajer having already made a number of appearances in the Hoops this season, but Sutton pointed the finger of blame at Parkhead recruitment chief Lee Congerton for the summer oversight.
“Having seen the massive publicity which greeted the arrival of Lee Congerton as Head of Recruitment, I can’t say I’m really seeing the fruits of that at the moment.
“You would think that if Rodgers wanted to bring in a defender, his chief in the scouting department would have had a list of potential targets to sift through until one was captured.”
In other Celtic news, the Hoops issued an emphatic response after clubs circled around this first teamer.