The Lawwell naysayers haven’t quite known how to react to the news that his son, Mark Lawwell, has been recruited from his role of head of City Football Group scouting and recruitment. Having imputed within these areas to the operations of Manchester City, New York City, Melbourne City and Yokahama F Marinos, Lawwell will now assume such duties under Ange Postecoglou. There have been grumblings that the former CEO’s influence – largely productive, despite the detractors – could be channelled through his son and undermine the Australian when it comes to pursuing transfer targets. Never mind that Postecoglou himself has stated the appointment was driven by him following the pair’s successful associations when he was in charge at Yokahama F Marinos.
John Hartson sees no issues in the move for Posteocglou, though. The 56-year-old is poised to claim the title in his first season in Scotland, and with that the £40million bounty ensuing from direct qualification to the Champions League group stages available to the cinch Premiership winners. He has pulled this off through demonstrating his shrewd eye for acquisitions. And the former Celtic striker believes these factors ensure that it will be the Australian who drives the summer transfer spend to raise the level of his squad. And Hartson believes Postecoglou can expect a £20m budget in addition to the near £15m they will look to commit to tie-up Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers on permanent deals.
“In terms of Ange now, I think he holds all the cards now. They’ve got to back him,” he said. “And they will back him. Managers want to achieve things at the very highest level, and he won’t want to rest on the fact that he’s only been here a year and won a double. He’ll want to improve Celtic at the highest level. Can they push on and make the knockout stages? It will be very, very difficult, but to do that they will need the quality of player. So, when you think of that, and Ange goes ‘I want this and I want that’ then you have to think Celtic will back him. They run their house accordingly. They don’t overspend. They don’t push the market out for many players – unless they’re very special. Like Jota is, like Carter-Vickers.
"The Champions League is very exciting, an absolutely massive draw for players, and it releases funds for a top class manager like Ange who has proved in his first season he’s somebody they really trust and believe in. Recruitment is everything and Ange got his right. That was so important. A year ago none of us had heard of Jota, or Liel Abada, or others. Let’s get it right. None of us had heard of Kyogo [Furuhashi], or [Reo] Hatate or [Yosuke] Ideguchi. None. Joe Hart was finished. Criticised when he came up here … too old, won’t do it.”
John Hartson was speaking at his Foundation’s annual golf day at Turnberry. John has raised more than £1million in the past decade for a variety of cancer causes.