One of the things that I’ve argued on this site over the course of this campaign so far is that the most improved player in Scottish football is Anthony Ralston.
I talked last week about how there are basically three contenders for player of the year, all in Celtic strips and they are Ralston, Kyogo and Jota. I said that if you extended the pool you could get Carter Vickers in there too.
But what about Tom Rogic?
Yesterday was his second game in the team since returning from his injury, and I thought that he was simply fabulous. His goal was a work of art, but his overall play was exceptional with it. He worked non-stop. He opened their defence at will.
People have said that this is the Tom Rogic of three or four years ago, the one who was a player of the year contender under Brendan Rodgers.
They are right but they are also wrong.
Even at that peak he was not the sort of player you could rely on to play 90 minutes in every game. Now he is. It’s not just that he looks as good when he plays; it’s how much he plays.
It is in the style he plays now, and the aggression he shows, and the minutes on the pitch that he gets.
Tom Rogic’s absence was noticeable during that spell out.
His presence now that he’s back is just as clear-cut.
He looks, again, like a player we can’t do without.
Lennon didn’t know how to use Rogic. I understood that to a certain extent, because I thought that Rogic had made himself a one note footballer, a player who could only play in one system, in one position, and was no used to us unless we utilised those things.
I thought Rogic would leave in the summer. I saw no future for him here, until Ange was confirmed as manager and then I thought that if Ange wanted to fit Rogic into his style that he might still offer something as look as he could adapt, which I honestly doubted.
But Rogic is much, much better than I realised.
This new role he has under Ange involves him working harder than he ever has before, but he has taken to that easily and comfortably and well. It took him a while to get up to speed, but now that it has he is truly like a different player.
He and Ralston are clearly the most improved members of the team from last season. Who out of them is having the best campaign? That has become harder to say.
A real re-evaluation of Rogic is taking place, and it is harder than the one being done on Ralston because of the contributions that Rogic had previously made to the club, whereas Ralston really was seen as a reserve player who would probably leave on a free transfer.
In other words, Ralston looks great from what amounts to a standing start and so it’s always going to be more noticeable. Rogic once again looks like a vital cog in the big wheel … and that might hide the fact that he’s actually a more integral one than before.
What is clear that is any talk about player of the year contenders has to be connected to his name, because otherwise it’s not legitimate.
Tom Rogic is most definitely in the running.
With performances like yesterday becoming more frequent, he will make his Celtic colleagues fight hard for the prize.