Celtic chief Peter Lawwell and the club’s board will “never be forgiven” if they don’t splash the cash this summer to ensure nine titles in a row, says former Parkhead full-back Mark Wilson.
The Celtic support is desperate for a shot at ten in a row and Wilson warned that it would be “catastrophic” for Celtic to fall short of even equalling the nine consecutive titles won in the 60 and 70s under Jock Stein and matched by Rangers in the 80s and 90s.
Chief executive Lawwell has been a background figure during the developments that last week saw Brendan Rodgers leave for Leicester City and Neil Lennon handed the managerial reins on an interim basis till the end of the season.
However, Wilson is in no doubt Lawwell will move to centre stage if, as he expects, Celtic complete a third treble in the next two months before being faced with reconstructing the squad left behind by Rodgers.
Wilson believes Lennon’s appointment should be made permanent but, in the meantime, he says the board will be perceived as overseeing recruitment strategy during a crucial period when it is possible Celtic could be faced with replacing the entire back four.
Wilson expects a major bid for Kieran Tierney, while Dedryck Boyata, Mikael Lustig
and Emilio Izaguirre are all out of contract and likely to depart. Filip Benkovic’s is only on loan from Leicester.
Other loanees Oliver Burke and Timothy Weah will return to their parent clubs, while Celtic have not yet indicated if they will activate a year’s option on Scott Sinclair’s deal, which expires in the summer.
Wilson said: “I definitely think there’s a lot of work needed.
“Even if there wasn’t a lot of players out of contract it would still be a tough job for whoever is in charge next season for the next manager to replicate the success.
“Celtic have to lose a trophy at some point. You can’t keep winning everything.
“The fact the new man, whether it’s Lennon or anyone else, will need to change so many players makes it an even tougher job. Not just for Lenny – but for Peter Lawwell.
“If Celtic go on to win this eighth title – which is looking likely – then you are talking about the nine-in-a-row year. Peter and the club will need to throw a good bit of money at this because Celtic can’t afford to fail. Rangers have put up a decent challenge this year and you’d think they will be stronger again next. It would be catastrophic if they didn’t do nine and the fans would never forgive the board if they didn’t splash the money.
“The fans were going off their nuts because they felt the club didn’t invest to get to the Champions League [last summer]. Can you imagine the response in the summer? It would be ten times worse if they didn’t spend money on replacements.
“There will be criticism levelled at Peter. With Brendan leaving now, I don’t think people are pointing the finger at him. That was Brendan’s decision made for his own reasons rather than the club’s. But the fans will look back to the summer when there was a fallout between them. The John McGinn thing keeps popping up and how it stuck in Brendan’s throat.
“If there’s something similar in the summer then there’s only one guy who was there for two or three windows and that’s Peter. The finger will be pointed. When you look at the numbers going out the door there has to be a need for quality replacements, not guys for £300,000. It needs to be quality.”