Tom Rogic never felt Celtic best was behind him as Oz star lifts lid on Ange Postecoglou influence

There has been a sense of Tom Rogic enjoying a second life at Celtic under his former Australia national manager Ange Postecoglou this season.

Yet, the 29-year-old, shortlisted along with his club captain Callum McGregor for PFA Scotland’s player of the year award, seeks to downplay the notion his days with the club ever were in danger of waning in terminal fashion.

Rogic, who joined Celtic from Central Coast Mariners in January 2013, is coy about the collapse of a proposed move to Qatar two summers ago. “I think there are a lot of stories all the time,” was all he had to say on that. But the phlegmatic character was more forthcoming about the general perception a series of injury issues had placed the best days in Scotland of a supreme talent behind him ahead of Postecoglou pitching up at the club.

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“That’s just how football is. Did I feel that? Not really,” he said. “I can’t control what people are thinking on the outside. I’m a pretty relaxed guy and that wasn’t on my mind at all, to be honest. Football works in funny ways and I think sometimes people get too high when things are going well and then they get a little carried away when it’s not going so good. So it’s not been on my mind. I have enjoyed the season thoroughly. In spells I’ve probably played some of my best football and physically it’s probably the best I have felt for a long time. It’s just been nice to be out on the pitch every week and enjoying playing football with a smile on my face again.”

Smiles were in short supply for the mercurial performer as Celtic’s pursuit of a 10th straight title disintegrated last season - the yang to the ying that is the storming league form of Postecoglou’s team placing them within a home derby win on Sunday of effectively sealing the title. Rogic isn’t one to dwell, though. “It was a challenging season for everyone. When things are not going as well and you are not as successful it’s obviously harder for everybody,” he said. “But it’s part of the game and there’s always a next opportunity, a next moment, or a next game to create a special memory. I think you’re better off looking forward than back.”

Rogic believes “potentially” he can look forward to his best years being still to come, with the attacker not turning 30 till the end of this year. Postecoglou has appeared to be able to unlock the best of a player who was his go-to creative fulcrum over his four years in charge of the Socceroos from 2013. But Rogic doesn’t pretend that he had all possible insights into how the new Celtic manager would remake and revitalise the squad when he arrived last June, despite their previous time working together. Even that has had surprises of the welcome kind for the midfielder - though one core principle crucial to the 56-year-old’s ability to unify the group of players under him has been firmly in place.

“I worked with the manager for a number of years in the national team and I knew him well enough, to a certain degree,” he said. “And once you have experienced working with him, you know that he treats everyone the same. There’s no preferential treatment to anybody. Boys, obviously, asked me questions and things like that. But they found out pretty quickly how he was and how he works. It’s been good so far. There’s been a big transition, a big change. It happens at clubs and some seasons have bigger transitions than others.

“Thankfully, we have been able to gel together as quickly as possible with a number of good signings and a bunch of good guys who have fitted in pretty well. I guess I am no different to anyone else in the team and, from a players point of view, the manager plays a brand of football most players would want to play in and enjoy. He’s been great. I worked with him for four or so years in the national team, but, obviously, in international football, you don’t get the time to work together day-to-day and that’s a new aspect I have really enjoyed this season. Experiencing those challenges and the intensity of work under him every day and striving to be the best you can be. He really challenges everyone at the club to do that each and every day.”



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