Tom Rogic's Celtic displays last week prove that Neil Lennon avoided a big summer mistake
It’s fair to say that Tom Rogic’s last two performances in a Celtic jersey have come out of absolutely nowhere.
Indeed, if there was one positive to take from the games against AC Milan and Aberdeen, it’s that the Wizard of Oz is back and looking sharp. Plenty in the Celtic support were certainly pleased with what he offered at Pittodrie yesterday in particular.
The Aussie managed to bag himself two assists, and they weren’t talentless assists either. Not one of those ones that’s a simple square ball whilst the team-mate fires it in from 30 yards.
Nope. Rogic slid in two expertly weighted balls for Callum McGregor and Leigh Griffiths respectively. Both buried the opportunities, and both helped Rogic get his assist tally off the mark for the season.
That came off the back of a lively display against AC Milan in Thursday’s Europa League group stage opener. Rogic’s close control and energy frightened Milan into stepping it up a gear, with his enthusiasm helping to raise our tempo and get us back into the game.
His first two appearances of the season were cameo outings against St Johnstone and Rangers. You can understand why Tom was quiet in both given he had only just returned to action again. But now he’s starting to motor, and he looked a lot more like the Rogic we know in the Granite City and at Parkhead.
The big Qatari deal that could’ve struck us hard
And that takes us back to the summer saga that involved his potential move to the Middle East. The attacking midfielder was set to head off to Qatar in a deal worth a reported £4m (Daily Mail). However, in the end he turned it down and stayed at Parkhead.
The idea was that he was dispensable. He wasn’t a regular starter last season, and we had Ryan Christie starting the campaign well too. Rogic had become an afterthought, and given his injury problems, £4m looked tidy enough for a player so out of the picture.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and all that, but looking back now, that could’ve been a decision that absolutely blew up in our faces. Had we allowed Rogic to leave, we likely would’ve struggled to get anything at Pittodrie for a start. We also would’ve been racking our brains trying to think of who could step up and be our main creative spark through the centre given the injury problems and lack of form amongst key players.
The fact that some of us (myself included) weren’t too fussed to see him go looks ridiculous now. Not because of two performances against Milan and Aberdeen. But because we had forgotten just how much of a game-changer he could be here. Or perhaps others had lost faith in him staying injury-free.
That last point is crucial. It’s what Lennon will be itching to see from Rogic going forward now – sustained availability. If he continues to produce like this without picking up another ankle/knee/ligament injury then we really are onto a winner here.
Rogic’s move to Qatar falling through could just be the biggest stroke of luck we had in the summer. The early signs have already shown that letting him leave looked like one big premature mistake. Hopefully, Rogic can now prove that theory correct.
In other news, Celtic’s cup rivals have provided an injury update after a triple concern for them yesterday.