This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Hoops midfielder Ryan Christie has had a roller-coaster history at Celtic Park already in his short career, initially farmed out on loan to Aberdeen before returning to be on the fringes of Brendan Rodgers’ squad last summer.
Eventually making a notable impact in 2018/19’s Scottish League Cup, scoring in the semi-final and final of the competition, Christie began to secure a regular spot in the midfield.
A sickening facial injury saw him miss the tail-end of the campaign though and he is only just returning to full match fitness, playing in Celtic’s opening UEFA Champions League match against Sarajevo.
Can he now make the ‘number ten’ role at Celtic his own ahead of others in the squad such as Tom Rogic?
It’s time to throwback to another Celtic legend in the video below. This time, Keith from C’mon the Hoops remembers Stiliyan Petrov…
Celtic’s familiar 4-2-3-1 formation means that it’s critical they have a reliable and hard working player behind the central striker who can not only link midfield and attack but provide a bit of flair that can unlock defences and provide goals.
When thinking of the Hoops over the last few years, the first name that comes to mind regarding that role is Rogic, but the Australian has sharply fallen out of focus at the club over the last six months.
Missing the start of the year at Celtic due to participation in the Asian Cup, the player returned injured and then lacked real match fitness for the rest of the season, with Chris Sutton eventually claiming that the 26-year-old “looked miles off it” last term.
It’s not a short-term problem either. Rogic has never started more than 30 matches in a single season for the club, which makes him an unreliable presence in a team that regularly plays 60+ games a year.
Christie meanwhile is ready to cement himself as the premier pick in that attacking midfield role, providing Lennon with the presence his team badly needs.
“I want to stay in the team week in, week out, and hopefully if I can, I need to put in big performances, score goals and create goals.
“The position that I was playing on Tuesday night, that number 10, I love playing in there. The gaffer says he sees me in there so that’s music to my ears. He wants to me to deal with that pressure.
“It was amazing to get back on the pitch. It’s been a long time, even since February it’s been frustrating with injuries. Touch wood that I’m back in for the long run now and can really kick on.”
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After getting his big chance in the Celtic team last season, Christie went on to score 11 goals and assist a further nine. It was a good return considering he didn’t really come into the equation until October.
With a busier style than Rogic, his obvious passion for the position and that eye for a direct goal contribution, the 24-year-old is now well-placed to be Lennon’s preferred choice in the Celtic line-up, finally providing the team with a ‘number ten’ that can be an almost ever-present fulcrum in the Hoops attack.