‘No major rebuild needed for Celtic’ says Peter Lawwell
Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has pledged that the treble-treble winners will remain relentless in their pursuit of further glory but insists the extent of summer squad rebuilding required by the club has been exaggerated.
Lawwell believes Neil Lennon, who was offered the permanent manager’s job immediately after Saturday’s Scottish Cup final victory over Hearts at Hampden, is “made” for the task of maintaining eight-in-a-row league champions Celtic’s dominance of Scottish football.
With Rangers bidding to make an improved challenge under Steven Gerrard next season, a significant revamp of the Celtic squad has been widely anticipated.
But while Lawwell confirmed Lennon will be fully backed in the transfer market, he feels the foundations are already firmly in place for Celtic to achieve their ambitions.
“We still have a core of a lot of good players,” said Lawwell. “I think people are maybe overestimating what we need to do or overstating it.
“But we understand that we need to be better, we need to be stronger and that will be our intention in the summer. We won’t stand still. Listen, we’re not dependent on another club, we’re independent. We want to make Celtic as best as it possibly can be. That’s our desire, it’s our need and that’s what we’re going to do.”
After a hastily convened meeting with major shareholder Dermot Desmond, chairman Ian Bankier and director Tom Allison at Hampden on Saturday, Lawwell and his boardroom colleagues went to the Celtic dressing-room and offered Lennon the manager’s position.
Lennon has been in interim charge since February and Lawwell, who stated he would have been offered the job even if Celtic had lost the cup final, defended the decision-making process of the club’s board.
“I think there have been other clubs recently who have made managerial appointments sooner than they should have,” said Lawwell.
“There was no purpose, no reason for us to do anything quicker.
“We knew Neil would be here at the end of the season. We just felt we’d take our time, get to know each other again and then make the right decision.
“It’s a fantastic job and I’m sure there would be people looking from afar who had an idea of coming here.
“We had approaches from many, many agents, many representatives of managers across the board. How credible it was, you never really know. We put them in the file, just left it and kept our word to Neil, really.
“We had a mini board meeting right after the game. We knew that Lenny was getting the job. We decided that we should kill the speculation on a high, get it out and let our supporters know and the media know.
“Neil knows the club inside out, he knows the city, he knows what’s required. He’s a great coach and has a great eye for a player. He’s got the strength of character to take it through. There’s probably nobody better at the moment, I would think,made for Celtic than Neil. He’s made for this club.
“He’s more experienced than when he was our manager first time around, a little more calmer, less emotional. That’s a great sign that he’s a learner and developer.
“We hope that he’s not going to say ‘No’. He’s been offered the job, our intention and belief is that Neil will take it and become the Celtic manager. We just need to clarify the details.
“The choice we had was – do we leave it until Thursday or Friday and let the speculation roll, or do we just kill it and then do the detail next? We decided to just kill it.”