Why Tom Rogic and David Turnbull thrived together for Celtic at Fir Park

By David Walton

October 18, 2021

When it comes to Tom Rogic and David Turnbull playing in the same Celtic team, there’s a general acceptance that it isn’t for the best.

Many Celtic fans had seen enough of it weeks ago. Coming up against packed defences led to the central area of the pitch being far too convoluted. Neither Rogic nor Turnbull were able to make any real impact because both wanted to operate in the same space.

This was most notable against the likes of Livingston and Dundee United in particular. And the fact it leads to less protection in front of the defence, it certainly didn’t help in the 4-0 mauling at home to Bayer Leverkusen either.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

It looked as though Postecoglou had seen enough himself when Nir Bitton took Rogic’s place at Pittodrie 2 weeks ago.

The truth is, however, that it would be something the manager would again revert back to at Fir Park on Saturday.

Both Rogic and Turnbull started in North Lanarkshire, and for the first time whilst playing alongside each other, they managed to shine too.

Ange’s Celtic turned a corner in impressive Motherwell win

Ange’s Celtic turned a corner in impressive Motherwell win
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

Why Tom Rogic and David Turnbull bossed it for Celtic at Motherwell

So why did it work at Fir Park? Well, the most obvious reason was the fact that Motherwell tried to be a lot more open and expansive than we’re used to seeing from Scottish Premiership sides. They looked to come out and outplay Celtic, and it’s fair to say it didn’t work.

Rogic’s best work came on the counter-attack after Motherwell had lost possession high up the pitch. Both he and Turnbull would have a lot more space to occupy due to the fact the Steelmen would commit numbers up the pitch.

Instead of long, passive attacking moves in front of a 10-man defence, there were a host of gaps in the final third for Celtic to take advantage of. Truthfully, we should be a touch disappointed the game ended with only 2 goals to our name.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Rogic was also playing a bit deeper too instead of focusing mainly on the number 10 role. It was his strides up the pitch that led to some of our best openings and indeed the first goal through Jota.

This is a partnership that could work in games where the opposition look to come out but don’t necessarily have the quality to cut us open at will. It’s why it looked so poor against Bayer Leverkusen yet so efficient against Motherwell.

Granted, there may not be many of those types of games in Scotland. But when we travel away from home to the likes of Hearts, Hibernian, Motherwell, and any other team that looks to push bodies forward, it’ll open up the gaps necessary to get the best out of Turnbull and Rogic.

Don’t be surprised then if Postecoglou plays both again tomorrow against Ferencvaros. It’s clearly not an idea he’s ready to drop just yet. But at the same time, he’ll need to understand when best to utilise it.

In other news, Ferencvaros will be missing 3 big-name players for Celtic trip