Chris Sutton’s criticism of Brendan Rodgers sums up the challenge for next Celtic manager

Former Celtic striker and current TV pundit Chris Sutton believes Brendan Rodgers has left this Hoops squad in a worse state than the one he inherited from Ronny Deila, writing in his Daily Record column.

What’s he said?

Sutton rarely holds back with his Scottish football views and this week he’s come to the defence of his former teammate Neil Lennon after criticism of the manager in the wake of last weekend’s defeat to Rangers.

The Celtic manager has come under fire for faltering performances in recent months, despite leading the club to another league title and cup final, and the BT Sport man reckons the issues at the club long out date Lennon’s arrival after Rodgers.

Writing for The Daily Record, Sutton explained:

“Lennon is copping the flak for a stuttering end to the season but these people need to open their eyes. This hasn’t just happened in recent months – the rot had set in more than a year ago.

“Celtic already have more points than last season, so it’s not only this term. No one can deny Brendan Rodgers was an outstanding coach for Celtic and his success speaks for itself. You can’t argue with seven trophies on the spin.

“But he also allowed the club to regress over the last 12 months and has left a total mess for whoever is in charge to mop up in the summer. In fact, you could argue Celtic are in worse state now than when Rodgers came in on the back of Ronny Deila.”

Is he right?

As ever, Sutton could be accused of being a bit harsh about the current state of the Celtic side but his argument does have merit.

Yes, it’s true that Celtic are on the march towards another treble of domestic trophies but there’s real belief that this squad in its current form are at the end of their current cycle, whereas the squad Deila left laid the foundations for this period of unprecedented success.

Rodgers’ inadequate recruitment over the last few transfer windows have left the squad needing major work and whoever the next manager is, whether it’s Lennon or another, has a hell of a job ahead of him.

What are the priorities?

It’s chiefly the defence that needs a big overhaul this summer.

Three players – Dedryck Boyata, Mikael Lustig and Emilio Izaguirre – have contracts set to expire at the end of the season, while others such as Jeremy Toljan and Filip Benkovic are due to head back to their parent clubs.

That leaves a five man deficit almost by default and serious investment will be needed to ensure the club have the depth to compete on multiple trophy fronts again next season.

With a striker and creative midfielder also arguably needing signed, you can start to see why Sutton believes this squad is in dire shape.