Tom Rogic looks best-placed for Celtic captaincy tomorrow night
Celtic fans got some unwelcome captaincy news earlier; Callum McGregor has been ruled out of tomorrow night’s clash with Real Betis.
That leaves something of a leadership problem. The recently coronated Celtic captain won’t just be a miss in terms of his qualities on the pitch, but also his style of guidance and influence amongst his teammates.
Without a clear choice of vice-captain, as McGregor was to Scott Brown, it’s a big test for this Celtic squad.
We know there are leaders in this squad. The likes of James Forrest and Christopher Jullien have shown as much during their tenures at Celtic. Like McGregor, though, neither are available tomorrow.
Who stands out amongst the available tomorrow night? We’ve seen Joe Hart step up from between the sticks. Tom Rogic has worn the armband in the absence of McGregor before, most notably against Ross County for a portion of Celtic’s win.
What about some former Academy talents? Could a symbolic, albeit temporary, leadership role befit the likes of Stephen Welsh or Anthony Ralston?
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Let’s assess a few of the options.
Is Tom Rogic ready for Celtic responsibility?
It wouldn’t be a shock to see someone Postecoglou knew and trusted prior to joining Celtic: Tom Rogic.
The long-tenured Socceroo has been in Glasgow since January 2013. Yet, he’s never really considered in a leadership context. Whether it’s through injuries cutting his seasons shorter, or his role as more of a creative force, he hasn’t ever seemed the “type” to be tipped for captaincy.
Why not, though? As someone with a pre-established relationship with the gaffer, Rogic had an advantage prior to the season starting. Namely, he understands and respects the demands of his new manager, and was able to inform his colleagues on what to expect.
Certainly, Postecoglou likes him. In a decent start to the 21-22 campaign, Rogic has been virtually ever-present alongside McGregor and David Turnbull.
As one of the more experienced Bhoys, Rogic is an option that makes sense. It’d be interesting to see him lead the team, co-ordinate the Huddle and attempt to lead by example.
Joe Hart: a Celtic captaincy option?
You like a shouter? Then Joe Hart’s your man.
The former Manchester City, Tottenham and Torino goalkeeper just oozes experience and passion. So far for Celtic, he’s talked about what an honour it is to be here, and he’s bought in completely to the fast-paced style Ange Postecoglou wants.
At 34, he’s been to World Cups and European Championships with England, while winning several accolades with Manchester City.
Handed the armband for Celtic before, Hart has deputised for Callum McGregor in matches where the Scotland international has been taken off. Involved in the Huddle [The Athletic], Hart is a passionate, no-nonsense leader, who has virtually made himself vice-captain to McGregor, albeit in a de facto sense.
He seems a fairly obvious choice. With 75 caps for England [Transfermarkt] and an exemplary attitude, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Hart given the big responsibility tomorrow night.
Anthony Ralston: captaincy a prize of sorts for rejuvenated Academy graduate?
Talking about Anthony Ralston in the context of captaining Celtic seemed so far-fetched a few months ago as to be science fiction.
Yet, if anyone’s taken to life under Ange Postecoglou, it’s the Academy graduate. Only now has he made more appearances for Celtic than for St Johnstone, despite coming through the Academy.
That should exemplify how odd Ralston’s progression has been.
But having a local lad with the armband does a number of things. Firstly, it has someone who, like McGregor, was brought up in the culture of the football club leading the way. Secondly, it’s a massive vote of confidence for the full-back in this season of renewal.
It’s not as if right-backs don’t make good captains. Jackie McNamara and Mikael Lustig have both worn the armband to great effect.
Provided Ralston starts, it could be an excellent boost for him to receive such a responsibility from Postecoglou. And, solidify a fruitful working relationship which could last for years.
In other news: Celtic winger James Forrest “not far away” from return