Mark Wilson urges Celtic chief Peter Lawwell not to give Neil Lennon half-rations

© SNSCeltic manager Neil Lennon (L) alongside club Chief Executive, Peter Lawwell
Celtic manager Neil Lennon (L) alongside club Chief Executive, Peter Lawwell

Celtic must give Neil Lennon the same financial backing they would have handed Rafa Benitez or David Moyes.

That’s the message to the Hoops’ board from Mark Wilson.

The former full-back was one of the side who started the current nine-in-a-row bid rolling when winning the 2011-12 title in the Irishman’s first spell as manager.

Since being appointed to the role in a permanent basis at the start of the month, Lennon has spoken of his excitement about getting the opportunity to boost the squad by bringing in the type of player who will get fans off their seats.

Yet while the treble Treble winners have been linked with a host of talent, they have been frustrated in their efforts so far.

They have reportedly had a couple of bids for David Turnbull rejected by Motherwell, and a move for Luton Town’s James Justin hijacked by Brendan Rodgers at Leicester City.

In addition they have had to admit that Timothy Castagne, currently with Atalanta in Serie A, is out of their price range.

With a mooted swap deal that would have seen Olivier Ntcham head for Bournemouth in exchange for striker Lys Mousset knocked back, it has already been a tricky window for Lennon.

And, while it is far from over, Wilson worries the right tone isn’t being set.

“Peter Lawwell has given Neil the manager’s job, so he has to give him a fair crack at it,” he said.

“By that I mean, give him the same chance he would have given Brendan Rodgers, Rafa Benitez or David Moyes.

“These guys wouldn’t have settled for half-rations on a budget for players.

“And you can’t say just because Neil’s a Celtic man – he’s been here before, he loves the club, all that stuff – that you can sell him short with say, £8million to beef up the squad.

“It has to be an awful lot more than that, considering how many positions they need to fill.

“It’s going to take a chunk of cash.

“Neil needs centre-halves, a striker, a right-back, cover at left-back. And if they do get the latter for Kieran Tierney, it needs to be someone of quality to push him.

“And that’s not accounting for interest from outside in the likes of Olivier Ntcham or Callum McGregor.

“You can trust Neil with a transfer kitty. And with a ninth title and 10-in-a-row maybe coming up, Peter Lawwell has to be aware what the fans will expect.

“Rangers have progressed over the last year.

“They made their intentions clear, even at Christmas, by shelling out big wages for the likes of Jermain Defoe and Steven Davis.

“So you have to wonder what they’ll do in the summer.

“I don’t think Celtic need to go overboard, but they do need to invest.”

One move that does look like it might get over the line is the £3m pursuit of Sheffield United right-back, George Baldock.

The 26-year-old is seen as a natural replacement for Mikael Lustig, who could be set to return to Scandinavia.

Should the Swede stay put, however, Wilson warns it would be foolish to write him off.

“You saw right away when Lenny came in how much he rated him,” he continued.

“He brought Mikael to the club in the first place.

“He actually saw me out of the team and I had to move on!

“It looked like Mikael’s time was finished under Brendan, especially when Jeremy Toljan came in.

“But then I was at Tynecastle when Neil brought him on at 1-1 in his first game in charge

“There were four minutes left in the game and it seemed an odd substitution to make.

“But Celtic won the game, and ever since then, Mikael has started most of the games.

“So I think Neil would be desperate to keep him.

“A lot of reports have said he wants to go back home, but I think Neil could persuade him.”

 

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