JOHN HARTSON says that Ange Postecoglou must be backed in the transfer market this summer if Celtic are to compete in the Champions League next season, saying he has earned the trust of the board with his track record of success with signings.

Mark Lawwell, son of former Celtic chief executive Peter, was appointed as the club’s head of scouting and recruitment at the weekend, but Hartson believes that Postecoglou has to maintain the final say on transfers.

And with the riches on offer with guaranteed group stage football, Hartson says that a significant portion of that must be entrusted to Postecoglou this summer in order to take Celtic to the next level.

“I think Ange holds all the cards now,” Hartson said. “They’ve got to back him.

“For him to take Celtic further in Europe...they’ve got Champions League, but can they push on and make the knockout stages? They’re going straight into the group stages, can they get through?

“It will be very, very difficult, but to do that they will need the quality of player.

“After last season, it was important that Ange got the recruitment right for the challenge ahead.

“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, or (Reo) Hatate or (Daizen) Maeda. None. Joe Hart was finished, didn’t have a club and finished. Criticised when he came up here. Too old, won’t do it......

“They will back him now Ange, because he has already shown that his signings have done very well.

“He has looked at some of the European performances this season; went out of the Champions League, went out of the Europa League into the Conference League, went out of that.

“That’s the one thing that top managers want to do, they want to go and achieve things at the very highest level, not 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, like Rangers have done over the last three years.”

The first order of business for Postecoglou, according to Hartson, should be to get loan signings Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers signed on permanent deals, which may eat up as much as £15m of his summer budget.

“He will get that,” he said. “He will need that [much] to get Jota and Carter-Vickers over the line if they are to get both of them.

“So, when you think of that, and Ange goes and says ‘I want this and I want that’ then you have to think Celtic will back him. They’re quite a wealthy club anyway.

“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.

“So I think this season, to have gone and got that carrot of £30-40 million, is fantastic. Champions League is very exciting, they can sell those three game packages, and everything else.

“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.”