ANYONE who has had the please so far to watch the new INVINCIBLES DVD that the club has released (and it is available now from CQN Bookstore), would help but notice a few crucial factors from last season.
One was the significant contribution made by James Forrest, a player ofter brought into focus when he’s had a poor game, yet usually ignored when he’s played well. When you watch the DVD, and you really must, check out how many times Jamesy plays an important part in the big moments in matches.
The other stand out is less surprising. But while Forrest has contributed significantly this season, when played, our other stand out performer has been a bit part player so far this season.
His should know that this is about to change.
We’re talking about Moussa Dembele, Celtic’s match winner in last season’s Betfred Cup semi-final.
A troublesome hamstring, which he picked up in the Scottish Cup semi-final in April, flared up again in the summer during that period when Celtic are forced to play qualifiers for the Champions League.
The French striker is back fully fit and raring to go and the Celtic manager has coaxed and encouraged him every step of the way. Today he expects to get his reward.
“Silence is a death sentence for a player. You can’t not talk to him,” Rodgers observed yesterday while talking about Moussa’s frustrations in being out of the side and therefore out of the limelight.
“If you live your life as a player and there is no communication, then you get in your car after training and your agent calls. It will be, ‘Are you playing? Why not?’
“Then you go home and your family is asking. It becomes a circus. Communication stabilises emotion and you are always trying to do that with a squad. He’ll get opportunities as the season pans out.
“It’s about recognising where Moussa is at. He is a top talent, a fantastic player, and it’s about communication with him.
“But Moussa gets it. That has always been my feeling with him. He knows how good a player he is but he’s also been humble with it.
“He respects where the team is at and knows he has to fight and work to get in there. That’s football. It’s not always an upward curve.
“He has been unfortunate with injuries but his understanding of why he’s not in the team is
important. He needs to know why.
“I do see signs that he’s getting back to where he was last season and I’ve told him that over the last week.
“With Moussa, you notice it in his running.
“When he came on against Dundee, his mobility and running ability was there. It was the same in his half hour against Bayern.
“He is going to be really prominent for us in the next number of weeks. I had to ease him back in after the injuries but it’s also how well the team and Leigh have been doing. He has played very well and you must respect that.
“My job is to try and manage that situation. If Leigh needs a rest or a breather, and Moussa plays, then it’s my job to decide that.
“It’s very much role reversal from this time last season. Do they like that competition? I’m not sure. They are both good lads and Leigh has been great since he came back from his calf injury. But all strikers want to play and score goals.”