Tomoki Iwata has now completed that rite of passage which all players at our club now go through, the media rounds both mainstream and fan. And he was extremely impressive on both and gave the kind of assured performances people will be hoping to see from him on the pitch. I do not believe we need to have concerns on that score.
The manager knows what we’ve got here, he was the one who sanctioned the deal for the guy who won the J League’s MVP award for the last campaign. We have raided Japan for the sixth time and the success rate thus far points to another good piece of business.
Tomoki Iwata has not been brought to Scotland to woo the media, of course.
He’s been brought to Scotland as a tough tackling, hard as nail footballer who primarily plays in the toughest, most no nonsense role on the pitch; the defensive midfield berth, where I think we’ve lacked something since Scott Brown departed the scene at the start of last season.
I love Callum McGregor, and I think he has performed superbly in a role which allows him to dominate the play from the back. But we lost out on the real Callum all this time; he’s a box to box midfielder, just as capable of getting into the opposition half and scoring as he is breaking up the play at the other end.
When you watch Callum marshal that area of the pitch it’s easy to forget that, in fact, he’s not a natural there.
Ange is the second Celtic manager to play him in that position, but his best football, his very best, came under Brendan Rodgers who had him in the more advanced role.
This was the Callum McGregor who had heavy interest from England.
Tomoki Iwata said yesterday, when asked where he expects to fit into the side, “We haven’t talked a lot about my position. I think (Ange) is expecting me to play as a number six.”
Which is broadly in line with what we all thought. Defensive midfield.
Callum is not the only player we’ve tried there. O’Riley played there, and did damned well, for a spell. Abildgaard was brought in to play there and obviously didn’t impress.
Since the boss came in we’ve tried Soro there, Ideguchi and James McCarthy … it’s a position we have badly needed to fill with an experienced player comfortable in the engine room.
So it is good to get one in, and one about whom there is not the slightest doubt.
This is a true Ange signing, a player who he knows and whose talents are not in the least dispute.
It will be interesting to see when he gets his debut, and what tactical choices that will reveal … if he and Callum wind up in the same team don’t be surprised.