John Hartson: Brendan Rodgers needs at least three new Bhoys

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers need to sign a minimum of three new players if they are to progress in this year’s Champions League, according to former Bhoys great John Hartson.

John Hartson: Brendan Rodgers needs at least three new Bhoys

Hartson, 41, said the club needs a “freshness” after two years of failing to qualify for the group stages in Europe, and new manager Rodgers needs to be backed by the club’s owners in the transfer market to capture a new striker, midfielder and centre-half.

The 51-times capped Welsh international believes Celtic will turn around last week’s horror defeat to Gibraltar champions Lincoln Red Imps in tomorrow’s second leg at Celtic Park, but agrees the ramifications are grim if they fail to progress.

“I think it would be another big blow, but at this moment in time, I’m not quite sure what we’re waiting for. Surely we should be looking to bring in players right now,” said Hartson.

“We’re two or three weeks away from the first game of the season, we’ve got big friendly game coming up and I think now is the time to bring in these new faces to give us that little lift, to take us through to the group stages.

“There is no guarantees of anything. I think we will get through to the next round and I’m hopeful more than confident, we will get into the Champions League.

“Brendan can only improve us so much. We need to bring in some impetus, we need new players. When players come to the club, people around them raise their game.

“I’m sure Brendan Rodgers when taking the job would have spoken to the board and said: ‘I need this, and I need that. He’s not’s good enough, he’s not good enough for me. I need to bring players in that are going to be good enough to take Celtic forward.’

“At this moment in time we are not doing anything. Celtic are not doing anything, we’re not bringing anybody in and I think we need to do that. Brendan needs a little bit of help.

“I think he needs at least three players: He needs a central defender; he needs a midfield player, creative; and he needs a striker as well.”

Speaking in his role as Celtic ambassador ahead of the club’s upcoming friendly with Inter Milan at Thomond Park in Limerick, Hartson was firm in his belief Rodgers will be a good fit as Celtic manager, but the pressure is on the former Liverpool boss to deliver in Europe as well as at home.

For the first time since 2012, Rangers will compete in the Scottish Premiership and Hartson expects all eyes will be on the champions throughout the season.

“Not only in the SPL, the pressure is on in terms of qualifying for the Champions League group stages. Because if Celtic wanted a manager just to win leagues, then Ronny Deila was doing fine.

“But Ronny Deila has failed to get into the Champions League in the previous two seasons, once to Malmo in the play-offs and the season before to Maribor. So there is a change there taking place.

“It is the big European nights is where Celtic feel they belong. They can’t go three, four years of not having that competition, not having that income of what the Champions League group stages, the TV revenue, the full houses at Celtic Park, the giants of European football.

“We’ve seen it over the years. We’ve seen it with Martin (O’Neill), we’ve seen it with Gordon Strachan, we didn’t quite see it with Ronny (Deila), but that’s what the fans want. That’s why they have brought in a manager of Brendan Rodgers’ calibre.”

  • Celtic face Inter Milan at Thomond Park on Saturday August 13 as part of the International Champions Cup. Tickets can now be purchased through

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox