Chris Sutton has labelled Rangers’ players delusional for comments made by some of the Ibrox first-team in the wake of Sunday’s Old Firm derby.
Celtic won the Betfred Cup semi-final 1-0 thanks to an 87th minute goal by Moussa Dembele. Brendan Rodgers’ side missed a good few opportunities prior to taking the lead, in addition to having a goal harshly disallowed early in the second half.
Possession and shot attempt stats mirrored the first Old Firm game of the season, which Celtic won 5-1, though Mark Warburton insisted his side were closing the gap on their nearest rivals.
The Rangers manager was backed in his opinion by a few of his players. Goalkeeper Matt Gilks suggested Rangers were the better side for parts of the game, while Josh Windass insisted yesterday his side could still challenge for the title.
The hopeful words coming from the Ibrox camp clearly rankled with Sutton, who derided the comments while appearing on BT Sport’s coverage of Celtic’s trip to Ross County.
He said: “There’s a lot of delusion coming out of Ibrox at the moment. There’s an enormous gap. The scoreline was close but Celtic were miles better than Rangers. There is denial.
“I don’t get, as a former player, all the rubbish and talking about “title challengers” and how they “outplayed Celtic”. They’re not in Celtic’s league. They should come out and say Celtic are the benchmark and we need to work very hard.
The former Celtic striker also had his say on the Joey Barton situation. The controversial midfielder will have been away from Ibrox for six weeks when he meets with Rangers hierarchy tomorrow. Barton was suspended by the club for an altercation with manager Mark Warburton.
Sutton said: “If I was Mark Warburton I’d want all the help I could get. Joey Barton has not covered himself in glory with some of the things he’s said, and he hasn’t played brilliantly, but Joey Barton is still a top footballer. He could come back and help this Rangers team.
“Sean Dyche said earlier this week that he would take him back at Burnley. Wouldn’t that embarrass Rangers? To see him playing in the Premier League?”
Whether Barton returns to the squad or not, it’s still going to be an uphill battle for Rangers, who went into Wednesday’s fixtures trailing the league leaders by seven points, having played a game fewer.
Fans will already be looking toward the January transfer window and where Warburton can improve his squad. Sutton, however, doubts his countryman’s ability to strengthen in the market.
He added: “The recruitment was horrendous in the summer. The Barton situation hasn’t helped, but then you’ve got [Joe] Garner for £1.8m and [Moussa] Dembele for £500k.
“Where’s the investment at Rangers? Dave King talked about £20m-£30m. And would you trust Mark Warburton with the signings made?”