REO HATATE insists his Man-of-the-Match performance in the 3-1 win over Kilmarnock will act as a turning point as he prepares to prove he can meet the demands of Brendan Rodgers.
The Japanese midfielder kicked off the campaign on the substitutes’ bench while David Turnbull got the nod to start in the Flag-Day opener against Ross County at Parkhead on August 5.
The Scotland international responded by notching a double in an eye-catching display in the 4-2 victory while Hatate had to be content with a 23-minute outing as a replacement for the former Motherwell star.
SOLO STAR…Reo Hatate races away from Kilmarnock’s David Watson on his way to claiming a memorable opening goal in Celtic’s 3-1 win at Parkhead.
The fans’ favourite, an instant hit after arriving along with Daizen Maeda and Yosuke Ideguchi in January 2022, has struggled with form and injuries since Day One of the current campaign.
CQN implored the influential middle-of-the-park operator to stand up and be counted last week as the Hoops got ready for the crucial Champions League confrontation with Lazio under the lights in the east end of Glasgow.
Hatate, unfortunately, didn’t respond and a poor showing against the Italians ended in the 72nd minute when he was withdrawn for on-loan Benfica youngster Paulo Bernardo.
It had been a fairly nondescript offering from Hatate as the hosts crashed 2-1 to a stoppage-time goal to be left anchored at the foot of Group E without a solitary point following the earlier 2-0 defeat against Feyenoord in Rotterdam.
That lacklustre display provoked a sitdown with Rodgers in the aftermath of the disappointing result as the boss examined key elements of his game.
PICK IT OUT…Reo Hatate lashes a low shot past keeper Will Dennis.
The Irishman discussed the intensity that is required in the role as he outlined his demands for the international.
Hatate, who was signed by Ange Postecoglou, admitted: “He has given me a personal challenge and for us all as a team. It’s a different way to work with him and I’m certainly enjoying it.
”Working under different managers can always be difficult, but I just want to put in my performance whoever the manager is.
“I cannot make an excuse because the gaffer is different. My strong point is to be able to work under any circumstances, so that’s how I try to perform.
“I wasn’t really concerned after the previous manager left. With the current manager, it’s obviously different, but I’ve already had three or four occasions to speak with him personally.”
Hatate reacted to the stimulating head-to-head meeting with Rodgers with his all-round display against Killie where he scored an outstanding solo goal to get the ball rolling. Luis Palma rocketed in a 25-yarder to double the advantage and Greg Taylor added the third.
JOY BHOY…Reo Hatate celebrates his superb strike, his first at Parkhead this season.
The only hiccup was David Watson’s consolation strike for the visitors with their only shot on target throughout a lop-sided afternoon.
Asked about the factors behind signing a new five-year deal at the champions, the 25-year-old playmaker smiled and replied: “The money goes up!
“No, putting jokes to the side, speaking to the manager and speaking about the future plans, I’m convinced about his plan and I thought I can improve myself under this manager.”
Looking at his false start to the new crusade, Hatate, speaking to the Daily Record, reflected: “It’s definitely not always good times. Sometimes you are kind of down and you have to work hard to go up.
“This game was a good opportunity for me.
“At the beginning of the season, I had an injury. After I came back, I did like the minimum job.
“Rather than that, I have to do my maximum performance like this game. Doing that, hopefully, I can contribute more to the team.”
SHATTERED…Reo Hatate is exhausted at the end of a punishing shift for Celtic against Killie.
Asked if there was more to come from him, Hatate added: “Yes. Next we have an international break, so we have to focus on the national team and playing for Japan.
“After that, we’ll have more league games. It’s like this. Going one by one. All of us just focus on improving the performance.
“Even though I had difficult times, this can be a turning point for me and, hopefully, I can perform very well.”