Chris Sutton saluted Celtic for winning ugly and says silky football will come – Daily Record

The ex Hoops striker and Record Sport columnist was hugely impressed at the way the champions battled to victory.
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Brendan Rodgers lapped up his latest Old Firm win. No wonder. It was a huge moment for him in his second spell. Rodgers is able to sit back now in the international break with any potential heat staved well off and replaced by a warm glow of satisfaction.
The Celtic manager walked away from Ibrox knowing his team is going to get even stronger with big stars set to return and new signings to be integrated. Rodgers was able to make quips about being on death watch and such like with the victory safely in his pocket. Amusing or not, this was a serious business for Rodgers going into the game. His team had not gelled properly in the opening weeks of the season and there were supporters not entirely pleased with the final recruitment before the window closed.
It needed both sides of the game at Ibrox. Celtic played very well in the first half, but could also then dig in and fight in the second and this is where the big difference still seems to lie between the champions and Rangers. In a big, big game, Celtic adjust and find a way with all contributing. Callum McGregor and Joe Hart are leaders in the dressing room and were leaders on the park. Two outstanding performances and, in terms of the keeper, an emphatic response to those who wanted him replaced. Liam Scales was superb. The fact he kept things so simple impressed me.
I remember Martin O’Neill telling me on the morning of an Old Firm game I’d be playing centre-half and thought, ‘Oh my God’. The message I gave myself was to keep it simple. Do the basics. Scales did just that and hats off to him. No one gave him a chance of performing at that level in that fixture and he did it. Rodgers wants silky football and has no doubt it will come but, in some respects, the manner of the triumph may have been even sweeter in the fact they had to battle and scrap in the second period.
Patched up at the back, missing key players, boys like Scales rose to the occasion while highly-touted Rangers players flopped. It’s all right having the talent, but you need the traits to win ugly and do the dirty work and Rodgers’ team proved they have that quality. For the supporters, that’s all they can ask. They’ll accept the performances not being at top gear so long as they see commitment in every tackle and every block and every bead of sweat being dripped.
It’s been said often enough that not every single supporter was doing backflips of delight when Rodgers returned to the club. Even though the majority were delighted at the appointment as he was, let’s be honest, the clear best candidate when Ange Postecoglou left for Spurs, some still needed extra convincing for reasons which we have been over time and again. Going to Ibrox and producing a crucial win to put a marker down is just the perfect way to go about it.
Listen, there’s much more to do. The Champions League is going to be an acid test for the manager and fans will want to see progress. It’s going to be extremely tough to make a dent against Atletico Madrid, Lazio and Feyenoord, but Celtic have to try to make some inroads.
Not be outclassed and do themselves justice while sticking some points on the board. It’s funny. This time last week, there were concerns for Celtic about whether their domestic domination was at risk, never mind Europe.
But that result at Ibrox changes the dynamic and, when he says he did it with half a team missing, he wasn’t far wrong. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Reo Hatate and to come back, Nat Phillips and Paulo Bernardo will join the fray as will Luis Palma. Maik Nawrocki is another currently on the treatment table. Rodgers’ team might not have hit the heights yet in terms of full-throttle play, but at least you can see the plan and the idea and you contrast that against their rivals.
I said before the game Michael Beale would be under the pump if it went wrong and you can see clearly that he is. This isn’t me saying that. It’s the 30,000 or so Rangers fans who were still at the stadium at full-time that explained the story. I look at Beale’s team and I just don’t see the identity. I don’t see the plan.
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Here’s the bottom line. Is the Rangers team any better than the one he inherited from Giovanni van Bronckhorst? I’m not sure the answer is yes. Beale’s new signings need time, but you don’t get time. And how is he going to build relations and understanding in the new front players when he chops and changes them every week.
What does it say about recruitment that he spends a fortune on Sam Lammers and Danilo and Kemar Roofe starts ahead of them? What does it say about tactics that, having found a way to combat and nullify McGregor in the final Old Firm games of last season, he rejigged the plan and allowed the Celtic captain to absolutely boss the game.
What does the manner of the Champions League exit tell you? It was no shame to go out to PSV Eindhoven, but losing 5-1 in the second leg isn’t on. The fans are speaking and, when that happens, it doesn’t tend to take long before those in positions of power start to hear them. Rodgers doesn’t have to listen to any such murmurings of discontent now. Victories at Ibrox have a habit of taking those away from a Celtic manager.
No wonder he lapped it all up.


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