Chris Sutton interviews Celtic Manger Ronny Deila for BT Sport. Youtube/BT Sport SPFL
Football is a sport utterly swamped with opinions and as with anything else, everyone is entitled to those opinions.
Chris Sutton is one man who is partial to an opinion on football. The former Celtic striker writes for the Daily Record and features as a pundit on BT Sport’s coverage of Scottish football where he also appears to enlighten viewers on European games which involve his former employers.
Ex-professional footballers turning to a career in media following retirement is common practice. Characters like Sutton are employed to provide so called ‘expert’ opinion on the game. Their experienced eye can see things that the average football fan cannot.
As an ex Celtic player Sutton should placed to give an ‘expert’ opinion on the club where he enjoyed fantastic success in the early 2000’s following a £6 million pound move from Chelsea (vastly different times for Scottish football).
Much of Sutton’s work in the media is understandably around the management of Celtic, at present lead by Norwegian manager Ronny Deila. Sutton has spent a large part the season claiming Deila was out of his depth and readily ridiculed the former Stromgodset coach’s claims that progress was being made in those early stages.
Sutton is entitled those opinions, no matter how sensationally given. However there has often been the question of just how far Sutton’s criticism of this season’s Celtic side would have gone had his former Celtic teammate Neil Lennon remained in the dugout at the Glasgow club.
The extent of Sutton’s criticism of Delia peaked following a Europa League win for Celtic over FC Astra back in October. In his column following the game Sutton claimed:
“I can honestly say I have never been so angry watching a Celtic team play as I was on Thursday.”
Clearly Sutton doesn’t remember watching Gordon Strachan’s low point in the Celtic dugout when they were embarrassed 5-0 in a European qualifier by Slovakian minnows Artmedia Bratislava back in 2005. Maybe he was too close to see that one due to his involvement in that particular game.
It also worth nothing that when it comes to finer details of modern day football management Sutton’s judgments should come with the disclaimer that his management career totals 12 months at English fourth-tier side Lincoln City.
These heavy handed assessments saw Englishman came in for some staunch criticism himself from Celtic fans. However this is small cost of becoming a football pundit who focuses almost exclusively on the fortunes of his ex-club for the tabloids. I suppose that adulation of fans who once idolised you doesn’t really pay the bills.
Fast forward to present Ronny Delia’s Celtic have gone from strength to strength to stand on the brink of a first domestic treble since Martin O’Neil’s maiden season in charge of the club back in 2000/2001.
With this change in fortune, a change in Sutton’s tune. This flip began in February when Sutton spoke glowingly of Celtic’s efforts over two legs against Italian side Inter Milan.
It then culminated in a best buddy interview with Deila prior to Celtic’s match against St Mirren last Friday night, of which Sutton later gushed in his column in the Record that he wished politicians answered as honestly as Deila.
As he wistfully reminisced about his ‘candid’ interview Sutton tellingly stated:
“There are some who have accused me of being super-critical of Deila during this season and I have refuted that constantly. I have been asked to give my opinions and have done so in as honest a manner as I can.”
Sutton therefore does not recognise that opinions can be communicated in a critical way. Honestly given or otherwise. That seems like bizarre logic.
Then again logic and perspective don’t fill column inches in quite the same way as hysteria and hypocrisy do.