Chris Sutton has delivered his most brutal assessment of Celtic’s Champions League prospects with the finger of blame pointed at the boardroom.
Since the moment Neil Lennon walked away in November mid-July has been circled in the diary of supporters as the opportunity for things to start turning around.
A new manager and new squad supported by a Director of Football and a progressive approach would have gone some way towards repairing the devastation of last season.
Three days before Midtjylland visit Celtic Park there really isn’t much sign of change around Celtic Park.
There could be two new signings registered with UEFA before 11pm on Monday about to make their debuts but other than that it will be a case of same old, same old.
Liam Shaw, Osaze Urhoghide and Liel Abada are the only new signings at the club with Kyogo Furuhashi waiting in the wings.
Celtic do look reasonable in midfield for Tuesday’s match, the forward line is up for debate while the defence will be very inexperienced in front of one of the three goalkeepers involved last season.
Hopes of a revolution remain just that, hopes. At best Celtic have a 50-50 chance of getting past Midtjylland, navigating their way through two further rounds if successful will require something of a miracle.
Looking at how his old club are prepared to face the Danes, Sutton told the Daily Record:
It’s a shocking state of affairs. Every season when it comes round to the Champions League we seem to be talking about the same situation, the same dilemma because Celtic haven’t acted quickly enough. But this is not on the manager this year. This is on the hierarchy for sitting on their hands.
Celtic fans always have hope and expectation for qualifying for the Champions League group stage. This season I don’t think that’s there. In my opinion they’ll be lucky to qualify for even the Europa League group stage.
We all know the importance of the Champions League and the pressure on the club given the financial benefits it can bring. It’s absolutely massive.
But Celtic haven’t been this depleted going into the qualifiers since before my time at the club over 20 years ago. I can’t remember a squad so stretched in all that time. It’s a hit and hope against Midtjylland and the Danes are clear favourites. They are a good side and settled.
They were in the Champions League last season and thumped Young Boys and Slavia Prague to get there before drawing with Liverpool in the group stage.
They are clearly no mugs. Then you look at the teams Celtic have fielded in the friendlies so far and you think; blimey! He has got very little to work with.
It’s not on Ange Postecoglou though. If they go out in the qualifying rounds this year then the board and the club’s hierarchy will carry the can. Dominic McKay has come in and Celtic are so far behind where they should be. It’s worse than last season.
And it’s put Postecoglou in an impossible position. The Aussie has gone into clubs before and shown he’s not scared to make changes. But he’s been here such a short space of time, how can he analyse what he has in front of him and have a clear plan?
He hasn’t got a chance. This is stuff of miracles if he can get a tune out of this team and turn round a 25-point gap on Rangers.
Sutton seems tuned in and ready for the new campaign- hopefully Celtic can be as sharp, direct and effective as Henrik Larsson’s old team-mate.