Ange Postecoglou has found a way to make Celtic duo of Rogic and Turnbull work

By Euan Davidson

October 28, 2021

You can have too much of a good thing, you know; and Celtic fans were aware of that with Tom Rogic and David Turnbull.

The duo are both number 10s, naturally. Their urge is to take the ball from midfield and either work a scoring opportunity, or facilitate. Their single-mindedness, technique and hunger for goals is valuable.

However, when Ange Postecoglou began to rely on the pairing, there were very obvious concerns. For a while, there, it wasn’t really working. Especially without Callum McGregor.

In the absence of the Celtic captain, Rogic and Turnbull were often encroaching on each other’s space. Or worse; leaving gaps in the midfield that opposition could exploit.

Both talented players, no doubt. As a pairing, though? The warning signs were there. Yet, Ange Postecoglou has find a way of making it work, to devastating effect.

Take the last two games for example. The differences are subtle on first glance. Against St Johnstone, Turnbull was the more ball-dominant of the duo, making 89 passes to Rogic’s 42 [WhoScored?]. Turnbull had 95 touches of the ball, Rogic had 63.

Postecoglou sends out the perfect message once again | Jackie McNamara on 67 Hail Hail

Postecoglou sends out the perfect message once again | Jackie McNamara on 67 Hail Hail
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

Then, against Hibernian last night, during their time on the pitch together, Turnbull had 40 touches to Rogic’s 29. Turnbull made 29 passes, Rogic made 18 [WhoScored?].

Rogic did more with less of the ball. His touch and technique were on full display, with Gogic having a nightmare keeping him quiet. His running won fouls, from which Turnbull – dominant on the night against Hibs – duly delivered with pinpoint accuracy.

Rather than having two talented players treading on each other’s toes, Postecoglou has found a way to make it work.

Ange Postecoglou finds pleasing remedy to Rogic and Turnbull quandary in Celtic first-team

It’s still very much a work-in-progress, of course. Still, there are signs of encouragement to be taken from the last handful of games.

The numbers alone suggest that, but you can see it on the pitch. Rogic is ceding the ball to Turnbull, so that the ex-Motherwell man can make incisive passes. Often, indeed, to his Australian team-mate.

It may not always work, especially in Europe. The presence of a holding midfielder, in order to have Callum McGregor further up, would be useful against teams who dominate possession and break quickly.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Domestically, though, it’s doing the trick. And then some. Just watching the movement and passing from the midfield forwards last night was utterly joyous. It felt like the kind of play Postecoglou has been yearning for since he first got contact from Celtic in the summer.

Promising signs indeed, and it’s a very attacking set-up. With a more naturally forward-thinking midfielder in McGregor being trusted to pull the strings from further back, it gives license for Rogic and Turnbull to cause havoc.

It may not have worked initially, and it might not be a permanent fixture. But at the moment? Very impressive.

Read more: Joe Hart pays tribute to Celtic away support on Instagram