It is just that no-one expected him to give the mercurial playmaker yet one more jump-start to his fits-and-starts, nought-to-brilliance-and-back-again, so early in his stint at the wheel. The 28-year-old midfielder possesses abilities capable of making him appear a player without equal in the Scottish game when everything fires. Unfortunately for him, he has an delicate engine that only allows for these days to roll around infrequently. Now, the second-longest serving senior squad member at Celtic, even when he was truly motoring under Brendan Rodgers across his two treble-winning seasons of 2016-17 and 2018-19, his actual game time equated to only around 30 games. In the subsequent two campaigns, fitness issues that have dogged him throughout eight years as Celtic player have restricted him to half of those minutes.
So often it has appeared he would be traded in – most recently when a move to Qatar appeared close last summer – but for Sunday’s 6-0 thumping of Dundee, he was back as not just a starter, but a scorer, in a devastating attacking display that bore the hallmarks of the Postecoglou methodology he is better versed than any team-mate.
Equally, the Celtic manager knows just how effective a tuned-up Rogic can be. The Canberra-born performer was pivotal for him across four hugely successful years in charge of the Australian national team from late 2013. The period produced two World Cup qualifications and a first major honour for the country in the 2015 Asia Cup success… which Rogic missed following groin surgery.
Despite that, the Celtic attacker’s best days for his country came under the man now in charge of him at club level. They yielded 26 of his 44 caps. And Postecoglou utilising him for a crucial encounter in the season’s early weeks suggests Rogic will be given the opportunity to write more chapters in an undulating Celtic career that has earned him no fewer than 14 major honours.
“I obviously know Tommy really well,” said Postecoglou. “He had a tough year last year and a bit of an interrupted pre-season as well. He wasn’t really able to join the group until the last few weeks. But because I know him really well I didn’t want to throw him in straight away. He’s one I know we’ll need to build slowly. He’s still got the quality – you could see it in training and he was great on Sunday. It wasn’t just on the ball. He also worked hard defensively if we needed him. Tommy and David [McGregor] had to work hard defensively because we couldn’t leave Callum [McGregor] isolated.
“But it is the same with Tommy as it is with all of the players. It’s my job to get the best out of them and help them realise their potential. Knowing him well doesn’t make it any easier or more of a challenge than for any other player. It’s about the collective for me. I know Tom can create, and what he brings to the table. He’s a perfect fit for the kind of football I want to play. If he keeps working hard, as he has been, then I’m sure he’ll enjoy it.”