Chances are if you are reading this,you have likely clicked a link to this article through my twitter account, so you fully realize that I am a Celtic supporter. I have tried to write about a wide variety of topics in the SPFL Premiership this season and avoid spending more time focusing on Celtic. There have been many interesting stories about clubs challenging Celtic this season from a statistical perspective, so it has been easy to find things to write about the other SPFL Premiership clubs this season. However, after Celtic announced the candidates for the club’s Young Player of the Year, many Celtic supporters on Twitter have assumed it is a foregone conclusion that left back Kieran Tierney will win the award. The young left back has certainly been impressive in his first full season in the Celtic first team and his play this season has earned his first Scotland cap. However, is Tierney the only worthy candidate for the award this season? Since the Presidential Election season is in full swing here in the United States, might I present an alternate candidate, a candidate who could have quite possibly literally won Celtic the title two weekends ago with his amazing goal against Kilmarnock. That candidate is, of course, Tom Rogic.
It is tough to compare an attacking midfielder and a left back’s contribution to a club. They are asked to do different things for the club, and as I stated in previous work, it is still a bit tricky quantifying defensive contributions to a club ,especially compared to straightforward measures like goals and assists. However, we can compare Rogic and Tierney strictly on their time on the pitch for Celtic this season. Rogic has appeared a little under 200 more minutes than Tierney this season for the club in league play. After spending nearly all of two seasons injured, it is impressive to see Rogic with the fifth most minutes at the club this season. While Ronny Deila has had numerous issues this season, it is impressive how he has been able to get players like Rogic and James Forrest (who only has about 1,000 league minutes, but due mostly to the fact he’s been mediocre at best rather than injury) healthy and able to contribute to the club.
While we have discussed the importance Leigh Griffiths has played for Celtic this season, as we can see in the above graph, Rogic is the second leading goal scorer in the league at the club this season. Furthermore, a few of his goals have been important goals for Celtic this season, such as the previously mentioned super goal against Kilmarnock and an important goal away at Tynecastle against Hearts that gave Celtic a point (and would have gotten them 3 points if not for a injury time Hearts free kick equalizer). Rogic has added many vital goals to Celtic’s campaign for another title this season.
Along with his ability to score this season, Rogic has also been a key creator of chances for his teammates with 5 assists this season, only behind Kris Commons who has 6. When looking at Celtic players who have at least 1000 minutes in league play, Rogic is only behind Leigh Griffiths and Kris Commons in combined Goals and Assists per 90 minutes. The Aussie has been able to create his own goals and goals for his teammates and is not only amongst the leaders at the club, but also leaders in the entire SPFL Premiership.
Finally, let’s take a look at Tom Rogic’s expected goal contribution to Celtic this season. We see that Rogic has an xG total of 4.18 so far this season, which is 4th best. Looking at the rest of the table we see that Rogic’s xG numbers around the likes of Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven, yet Rogic has 4 more goals in the league than both Armstrong and Mackay-Stevens. Rogic has had roughly similar types of chances that his colleagues have had, yet has been able to be more clinical in his finishing. Kris Commons has a 6.72 xG total this season, much higher than Rogic, yet has 3 goals less than the Aussie. As Seth at Fitba Fancy Stats has shown, there is definitely some randomness and luck involved in goal scoring. Sometimes a player can do everything right and the ball just doesn’t go in and sometimes the ball magically finds it’s way in with the player not doing a lot to earn a goal. However, Rogic’s combination of expected goals numbers and goal scoring this season has been very impressive and vital to Celtic this season.
Kieran Tierney has certainly had an impressive season and is very much deserving of Celtic’s Young Player of the Year award. However, it seems that many Celtic supporters are overlooking the importance that Tom Rogic has had for the club this season. Rogic’s goal scoring and ability to create chances for his teammates has been very impressive this season. He is proving to be an important player for the club this season and seems to be a worthy candidate for Young Player of the Year at Celtic.