The future of Tom Rogic at Celtic has recently come under scrutiny thanks to the comments of Craig Moore and Robbie Slater, both of whom are of the opinion that he should leave the club in January if he has not cracked the first team by then. In addition to this, Rogic’s former coach at Central Mariners, Graham Arnold – now managing in Japan – has hinted that he would love to add the Australian to his squad at his new club Vegalta Sendai.
The basis of Moore and Slater’s comments hinge around Rogic’s lack of game time hindering his chances of making the Australian World Cup squad however, there was also a sly dig at the standard of the Scottish game with the insinuation that both Messrs’ Moore and Slater could not believe that a player of Rogic’s ability was not already a first team regular in the Scottish Premiership. Perhaps on this point Craig Moore would do well to remember that he spent the majority of his career playing in Scotland and earned a lucrative living from it.
What I found interesting however, were the responses I read to the article on several different fan forums. There appeared to a consistent level of outrage that anyone outside of Celtic should have an opinion on the future of a current Celtic player. That Craig Moore used to play for Rangers, and was fond of the occasional common assault on Celtic strikers, only added fuel to the fire. Further to this, I read a number of comments asking who the hell Robbie Slater was, and how dare he think he has the right to pass comment on a Celtic player. Well, a simple Google search would have informed the laziest of commenter that Slater is a former Australian International footballer, currently working as football commentator in Australia. So, we have the unbelievable situation where two former Australian internationals have an opinion on the current national team and a player whom they would like to see involved in the set-up. It’s not really a cause for outrage. Unless of course you are one of the new breed of Celtic fans who finds themselves being easily offended by almost anything written about their club; most probably, that will include this blog.
Being a Celtic fan myself, I read Moore and Slater’s comments and decided that, you know what; all they want to see is a fellow Aussie being afforded the chance to show his abilities on the pitch and play his way into the national set-up. I see nothing wrong with a couple of ex-pro’s wanting to see one of their own fulfil his potential and express their views on how best they believe he should go about doing that. They may be right, they may be wrong, but after all it’s just an opinion. And we all have one.
As a Celtic fan, I am excited by what I’ve read from within the club regards the high esteem with which Tom Rogic is held and have been impressed with his fleeting performances in the hoops so far. I do however share Moore and Slater’s impatience and want to see Rogic involved more frequently in the team as I believe that he has something special about him. From what I have seen, he has an eye for pass, is comfortable on the ball, and has a natural ability to take players on in a central position and move the team forward. The current Celtic team, in my opinion, needs a player like that to remove some of the predictability from our play and Rogic could be that man. Unfortunately for him, we currently have Kris Commons filling the role behind the front man which would probably best suit Rogic’s game and, with the best will in the world, Commons is simply un-droppable at the moment. There is barely a Celtic goal that Commons is not involved with in some shape or form, thus making it almost unimaginable to see a Celtic team sheet without his name on it. With that in mind, it doesn’t look like Moore and Slater will get their wish of seeing Rogic playing regularly by Christmas. So what’s next for the big Aussie?
For me, Tom Rogic has several options open to him; stay and fight for his place, move out on loan, or move on permanently. I subscribe to the first two options. If Rogic is as a good player as we are lead to believe then Celtic have a star in the making on their hands, therefore why should they look to sell him? At the time of signing Rogic, Neil Lennon said that it would be two or three years before we begin to see his true potential. That was only a year ago, so there should be little panic that Rogic has not yet made a first team spot his own. The lad is also only 20 years old and therefore has time on his hands to develop his game before being thrust into the first team or having doubts cast over his career aspirations. If Rogic stays at Celtic and does not play enough games to merit a call up to the Soceroo’s World Cup squad, it will not be the end of his career and there will be other World Cup’s for him to play a part in. Staying at Celtic provides Rogic with the opportunity to develop his game in familiar surroundings, with a winning club, and with a manager who, in the case of Darnell Fisher and Tony Watt, has shown that he is willing to give youth a chance. However, on that last point, perhaps he could give youth more of a chance.
A move out on loan would be a possibility as this would give Rogic the chance to play regularly and improve his game through increasing his game time, something that seems to be working for Jackson Irvine at Kilmarnock. While a move on loan would benefit the player through increased game time and exposure to first-team football, it may well be to Celtic’s disadvantage as they would be without a natural replacement for Kris Commons should he suffer injury or be in need of a rest. Having said that, if Rogic comes back next season with the experience of half a season of first team football under his belt then Celtic would be the main beneficiaries and, in his absence, the opportunity may arise for Dylan McGeouch to gain much-needed first team football as Commons’ understudy.
A move away from Celtic has no benefit for Celtic. Any transfer fee would likely be negligible and Celtic would no longer be able to utilise Rogic in the future. For the player, moving away may lead to more first team football however, the chances of him moving to a bigger or better club than Celtic, to a more competitive league where he can develop his game, and where there is the offer of Champions League football most years is very slim. Therefore, in the best interests of his career, Tom Rogic would be best served staying with Celtic or seeking a short-term loan in my opinion.
In response to Moore and Slater, it is not Neil Lennon or Celtic’s job to make sure that Tom Rogic makes the World Cup. I do sympathise with them as they want the best players in the squad and feel that Rogic comes into that category, however they must remember that he is only 20 and that Celtic signed him with the big picture in mind for Celtic, not for Australia.
I wish Tom Rogic all the best and hope he does make the World Cup with Australia but that he achieves that through hard work and making the most of his opportunities with Celtic.