Celtic have gambled once again in the transfer market ahead of the most crucial games of the season, believes Chris Sutton.
The ex-Hoops striker, speaking from experience as someone signed in good time for the 2000/01 season that halted the Rangers juggernaut in its tracks, thinks that the club has ‘stood still’.
Writing in his column in the Record, Sutton believes Lennon has a better chance than Steven Gerrard of landing an early season blow, while also delivering the on the club’s European qualification ambition.
His prediction comes with a warning, however. He said: “I can’t help but feel his club have gambled again at just the wrong time.
“You can’t argue with the fact they have spent £12million to replace the defenders who left, but, realistically, that’s £12m spent just to stay still. Celtic were filling gaps which had been emptied.
“In terms of adding, not much has actually happened and Romania on Wednesday night is where we’ll really find out if that’ll be costly.
“Lennon can afford no passengers in this tie or it’ll be AEK Athens 12 months ago all over again.”
Such is the tension going into this nine in a row season, Sutton believes that any kind of slip-up will see the vultures circling for either Gerrard or Lennon and he’s certain that one of them will face the sack.
He continued: “Alright won’t cut it. They can’t just rely on Odsonne Edouard and, if Griffiths can’t get back his best, they have issues at the top of the pitch as well as a backline yet to prove itself.
“Celtic need players to step up to get the season going or they might be in a sticky position.”
Sutton is right to point out that, while Celtic were in turmoil off the pitch last season, Rangers still failed to land a telling blow.
The first win at Ibrox in December was a sore one due. It was probably similar to the manner of the Tynecastle capitulation that ended the unbeaten run.
Celtic still bounced back to win the treble both times.
The second Ibrox defeat was a dead rubber, coming after Celtic players had been given time off to celebrate winning the league.
In the first game, Celtic had personnel problems with Callum McGregor at left back and Mikey Johnston chucked in up front.
Johnston again was in an unfamilar position for the second defeat at Ibrox, but the youngster has came on leaps and bounds since then, while Lennon has the returning Leigh Griffiths to bolster his attack.
Youngsters are emerging too, but Celtic need solidity at the back and this is where the biggest transfer window gamble has taken place.
Celtic have done well in the qualifiers so far, but Cluj are a “big step up”.
The board’s transfer policy has, consistently over the years, left Celtic managers with one hand tied behind their back going into these high stakes encounters. We have been lost three times in five years against beatable opposition.
Like many gamblers, those upstairs never seem to learn.