When Australian attacking midfielder Tom Rogic signed with Celtic in January of 2013 he was, despite only appearing in a total of 27 professional football games, already a household name here in Australia.
It seems a constant thing in football down here to be trying to unearth the next Harry Kewell or Mark Viduka as soon as we can. Tom Rogic seemed to be the new face of Australian football. So much pressure on a kid who in the grand scheme of things had done nothing yet.
While the Midfielder may not be in the same mould of either of those players, he is definitely an exciting talent for us heading into the future.
He may not have set the world alight in his 15 appearances for Celtic but he has clearly shown enough that Lennon wants him around.
In January 2014 Celtic agreed to loan the 21 year old to Australian A-League club Melbourne Victory to allow him more regular game time in the lead up to the World Cup in Brazil, something that manager Ange Postecoglou is demanding from those looking to be a part of his 23 man squad.
This was also a great opportunity for me, a Celtic supporting Melbourne Victory member, to get a close look at Tom as we head into the tail end of the season.
I’m a firm believer that had it not been for the pressure of a World Cup year, and the pressure to be playing consistently, Tom Rogic would not have been granted a move away from Celtic. Neill Lennon has stated before that the boy has potential, and would prefer him to stay at Celtic to grow as a footballer.
The decision to loan Rogic to Melbourne Victory is a measured one. The current national team manager was the Victory manager at the start of the season before being poached by the FFA, and his assistant Kevin Muscat (yes, THAT Kevin Muscat), was to take the reigns. We also have a very good chance at finals (very MLS of us), and we also had the chance to qualify for the Asian Champions League giving us at least 6 games against the cream of Asia.
The teams record with games involving Rogic is OK. 4 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses.
We are currently sitting 2nd and have a huge game against the Brisbane Roar who a clear leaders this weekend.
Rogic has missed 2 games since arriving, the Champions League game against Chinese Guangzhou Evergrande due to an ankle injury suffered in the 4-3 win against Adelaide. He also missed the home match against his former club Central Coast as he was travelling home from the Australian International friendly against Ecuador in London.
In the 8 games Rogic has appeared in for the club he has only played a full 90 minutes once, our 2-1 Champions League qualifier against Thai side Muanthong United. He has come off the bench twice but his usual role has seen him average between 70 & 80 minutes before coming off for fresher legs.
Performance wise, Rogic has been slightly up and down. Keeping in mind he is still young he can’t win a match off his own back… yet. He plays a solid team role and quite often shows the glimpses of talent that could propel him to become a great player. His futsal background gives him such quality close control for a big guy. He continues to display those flashes of brilliance but then often reminds me he’s a young man still learning the game with his decision making.
One of the things I love about Rogic is his intention to play forward. When given the space (and he needs very little), he’ll try and turn and run towards goal when he receives the ball. He doesn’t often look to play back to a defender. Something that he probably needs to find a balance with as he learns the game.
He also has a cracking left foot on him!
The question I often get asked especially from Celtic fans is can he still make it at Celtic? Recent history would suggest being loaned out could spell the end of your time at Parkhead. While his loan spell has aided his cause for a World Cup spot, I hope it hasn’t had a detrimental effect on his time at the Hoops.
Heading to Brazil in June we face a tough challenge against Spain, Holland and Chile. He will definitely get plenty of game time there. As an attacking midfielder it’s hard to tell how much of an impact he can have against these teams but the challenge will stand him in good stead when he heads back to Glasgow after the tournament.
With a good contract in place and time on our side, I’m sure that the $750,00 AUD Celtic paid Central Coast to acquire Tom will look a bargain in years to come.
You can follow the progress of Tom Rogic & Melbourne Victory at the victory website http://www.footballaustralia.com.au/melbournevictory/
All match highlights are loaded in the results section.
(I suggest the 1-1 draw with Perth Glory on 31/01 as a decent showcase of his abilities!)