I’ve been wondering how Socceroo Tom Rogic will go when Ange Postecoglou starts at Celtic...
Time for Tam the Tim to swim (or sink).
He’s always been something of an enigma to the Celtic fans who – as I’ve written before – took some time to appreciate his genius.
Not least because he was constantly injured when he first arrived at Lennoxtown. It was a very stop/start beginning.
Suddenly he was fit after a solid pre-season and the Celtic fans began to see what Australian fans had seen ever since he debuted for the Mariners as a 19-year-old futsal prodigy - keeping the ball on a string like Ginger Tomkins.
Then there was a period of three or four years when he was arguably the best player in Scotland (largely coinciding with Brendan Rodgers’ tenure as manager), but now he’s reverted to an oft-injured player of desultory performance who is once again dividing the fans. Some think he still has the magic, and others reckon he’s finished.
He’s still only 28. That’s the age that most players are at their absolute peak as the youth/experience curve hits its sweet spot.
Ange will be aware of that. He will also be aware of what Rogic is capable of, having picked him many times for Australia.
Some would say we’ve rarely seen the best of Rogic at international level but maybe that’s because we expect so much of him. Others suggest he can’t play in the same team as Aaron Mooy (who as often as not is MOTM in any game he plays).
The thing is, international coaches rarely get enough time to blend their combinations properly and are frequently confronted with availability issues which further complicate matters. Ange will now have the luxury of time to work day in, day out with Rogic to find out how he ticks in Clubland and learn how to prepare him for a full season and make his best impact.
The first questions are where will he play and how will he cope with the usual Ange press?
Celtic have other options at number 10 – Rogic’s usual position – but could Ange play two 10s? Or use Rogic as a false 9?
He’d have to be fit and injury free first. I expect Ange will want fit, fast players to harass the enemy all over the park and Rogic will be a luxury in such a system. However, once the enemy have been exhausted by the Celtic press, Rogic could be lethal coming on late against tiring legs.
In fact, I can see that being a key part of the Ange strategy. Rogic still has the ability to beat players, pick out a pass or hit thunderous shots from distance. I don’t think he can do it for 90 minutes but he could do it for 20 or 30 once the opposition have been worn down.
That’s assuming, of course, that Ange will want him at all. He famously suggested Rogic leave Celtic when Australian manager (but that was about getting game time when Ronnie Deila wasn’t picking him).
Given how many players have already gone – or going – Ange will have to bring in others quickly, so he won’t want to lose someone with Rogic’s formidable talent right now.
I expect the Rogic project to be one of Ange’s first priorities and will be watching very keenly to see how that turns out.
Adrian's books can be purchased at any good bookstore or through ebook alchemy. His first sci-fi novel will be published by Hague Publishing in late 2021.