Every player who signs for a new club will struggle at some point.
Even if the player in question is an unqualified success overall, there will be spells lasting weeks where he seems less than what he’s otherwise seemed to be. Even Kyogo had his dip in form.
We’ve seen nearly every player in this squad go through a spell where they didn’t look like they were hitting the heights we know they are capable of. Perseverance, hard graft and self-belief are what gets players through those spells, and that’s why we are seeing Matt O’Riley really start to assert himself as a footballer again.
I thought he was excellent last weekend, in what was always going to be a blood and thunder, do or die match against the club from Ibrox. But he stepped it up again yesterday in his performance against Kilmarnock, capped by his double.
We’re starting to see again the guy who some predicted would go on to be the most lucrative sale in our history. That’s how good he is capable of being … and the drift in his form never once made me question that, and nor I think did anyone else, and certainly nobody inside Celtic thought for a minute that we’d bought less than he first seemed.
Players who want to go from being good to great will have spells where they’ll dip in form. But greatness comes from those who endure those spells with good humour and hard work.
They don’t spit the dummy. They don’t get disillusioned. They don’t start banging the manager’s door for more games or for a move away … this guy has shown he’s a pro.
I love the fact that he’s getting his head up again and that he’s grabbed the opportunity with Hatate out of the team.
He has done the hard graft and he’s getting his rewards on the pitch now. When Reo is back in the side the competition for places will be fiercer than ever … but what we’ve seen is that competition spurs this side on.
Competition makes this team better.
We are starting to see the signs that it has made O’Riley better.
We will see more of them in the weeks to come, I have no doubt of it.