Forget Mark Hughes, go for Neil Lennon insists John Hartson

MARK Hughes may have been touted as a contender to become Celtic's next manager, but John Hartson insisted last night there is not enough money at Parkhead to tempt his former Wales manager to the Scotland and backed Neil Lennon to instead keep the role on a permanent basis.

• John Hartson spoke about the managerial prospects of his former Celtic team-mate Neil Lennon, below, as he launched SuperStar Call, an online greetings service. Picture: SNS

Former Celtic favourite Hartson believes Hughes – sacked by Manchester City earlier this season – would insist on bringing in his own backroom team, and could not envisage the prospect of him working alongside Neil Lennon, who is currently operating in the post in an interim capacity.

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Hughes's long-time assistant Mark Bowen said this week his associate would not price himself out of a move to a club if it was "right vehicle, the right situation" and allowed him to "build a place and make a difference long term", which is what he said the 46-year-old did at Wales and Blackburn, "and were in the process of doing at Manchester City".

But Hartson is convinced the personnel changes, resultant salary packages and transfer funds that Hughes would require to take the reins at Parkhead puts him out of Celtic's price range.

"Mark would want to bring in his staff," Hartson said. "Mark Bowen, Eddie Niedzwiecki and Kevin Hitchcock, his goalkeeping coach. All this 'can he work with Neil (Lennon]' stuff. No chance. He brings his own people (wherever he goes]. Like Tony Mowbray did. Like Martin O'Neill does with John Robertson and Steve Walford. Then he would want to dismantle the team. None of them are his players. He would want to bring in, probably, 30 million of players. The club simply haven't got that. So he would be an expensive choice and whoever they went for would cost a lot of money.

Hughes, out of the game since being dismissed by City in December, has emerged as the man-most-wanted by the club's supporters. But Hartson hopes that Scottish Cup success, an Old Firm win and cutting the SPL points advantage enjoyed by champions-elect Rangers can ensure Lennon is given a lasting role by the Celtic board.

"It makes sense to give Neil the job," said Hartson, in Glasgow yesterday to launch an online greetings service SuperStar Call. "There would be a mixed reaction. Some of the crowd would want a bigger name, while some would be absolutely delighted to see him get it. You can't please everybody, I suppose. The only way you could please everybody is if you brought Martin O'Neill back. And I don't think that will happen.

"People go on about Celtic men. Tommy Burns was a Celtic man, god rest his soul. So was Martin. Gordon (Strachan] wasn't. He won the league three times out of four, two times he was in the second stage Champions League, but the fans never took to him.

"They should be happy with Neil if he gets a chance because there is no bigger Celtic man out there. I haven't spoken to Neil or any of the directors but he'd get fans on side. He got rapturous applause last Saturday, so I say give him the job. He ain't going to cost them nothing, gets on great with (Peter] Lawwell the chief executive. He hasn't got that much experience but worked under Gordon for more than a year and little bit under Mowbray taking the reserves."