Former Celtic Man Sutton Was A Player Opposition Fans Loved To Hate

Chris Sutton the player was much like Chris Sutton the pundit: People seem to either love him or hate him.

Those that enjoy his work will say he’s passionate and honest, while those that dislike him will say he’s arrogant and biased.

Growing up I supported the blue half of Glasgow and that meant Sutton was part of the enemy.

Your rival’s players could fall into various categories; those you laughed at (Rafael Scheidt), those that were a bit meh (Marc Crosas) and those you had just had to respect (Henrik Larsson).

Chris Sutton fell into another important category and that’s one that opposition fans really dislike but grudgingly knew that they’d love to have in their own team.

The Englishman came to Glasgow after a poor season at Chelsea. His £6m signing was a masterstroke bit of business from Martin O’Neill. Sutton would join the Hoops determined to prove himself and was still only twenty-seven years of age, so he was just hitting his prime. That’s a dangerous combination for the opponents he’d come against.

His style and Chelsea’s style didn’t really suit each other but at Celtic his physical approach was just what was needed at Parkhead. His partnership with Larsson was legendary and they’d provide plenty of assists for one another. Having supply lines from the likes of Alan Thomson, Bobby Petta and Lubo Moravcik was perfect for the strikers.

He instantly became a hero for the fans with a debut winning goal against Dundee United in the SPL. His fine form continued into the first Old Firm derby of the year that year and Celtic knew that this game was the one that would help form their season.

When the game started, it was quite clear that Celtic were at the races as they rushed into a three goal lead inside the first fifteen minutes. Sutton grabbed the first and helped with an assist for another. Celtic didn’t take their foot off the gas and completed a 6-2 rout and Sutton scored again at the end of the game.

He seemed to relish scoring against his side’s biggest foes and that gave him a hero status in the east end and he quickly became hated in Govan.

To be fair, Chris was a very intelligent player. He would work on opponent’s weaknesses and he scored various types of goal. He could also play at the back or in midfield, and only smart players can adapt to play in such varied roles for their team. His involvement in the build-ups was majestic and his unselfishness in helping his fellow strikers was admirable.

Sutton’s overall style on the park was the main reason he wasn’t liked by those in blue. He was very physical and didn’t mind bullying defenders. He would pull, push and grapple with opponents. Those type of actions that the referee would tolerate but the opposition fans would be yelling from the terraces.

When you took a step back as a rival supporter screaming at his dirty tactics, you could see that he was actually the type of player you would like in your team. Rangers had a similar type in the past in the form of Mark Hateley and he was adored.

Who wouldn’t want a player who was passionate about the team, that could bully defences and who could score in the biggest of games both domestically and in Europe?

Chris Sutton later stated:

“When I arrived I wanted to put Rangers in their place. I felt strongly about this. I came to Scotland to be a winner and be successful.”

To be fair, that kind of statement is what you want to hear from a player that has played for your club. It obviously stings when it’s against you, but it only hurts because you know that’s what you want from your own players.

When I look back at Sutton’s time in Glasgow, as a player, I have to grudgingly accept he was brilliant for the Hoops and had the qualities that you had to admire.

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