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In his post-match interviews Aaron Mooy comes across as shy, awkward and generally uncomfortable with a microphone in front of him.
Switch that mic for a size 5 however and it’s a completely different ballgame.
When he crosses that white line the Australian international is transformed into a confident, composed and incredibly gifted individual.
And Celtic fans are now beginning to see just why Ange has so much faith in his countryman.
Re-Adjusting to Full Time Football
It’s taken some time for Mooy to fully find his feet at Celtic since his arrival on a free after a spell at Shanghai Port in China.
His signing on the 31st of July – on the same day as Moritz Jenz – raised more than a few eyebrows amongst the support.
Bit part appearances off the bench were the norm in his early weeks at the club as he struggled to find fitness and to break up Postecoglou’s preferred midfield trio of McGregor, Hatate and O’Riley
In his defence his last competitive game in China was way back on the 9th of January 2022 (a 1-0 loss in the Chinese FA Cup Final).
A period of adjustment was inevitable as he returned to full time football.
Despite his lack of club action he continued to feature in crucial World Cup Qualifiers for his country, and in Qatar proved just how valuable he is to Graham Arnold’s side.
Post World Cup Form
It’s only now in the weeks since his return from tussling with Lionel Messi and co. that we’re really beginning to see the real Aaron Mooy.
In the eight games he’s been available for since the break he’s now started five and featured from the bench in the other three.
Into the bargain we’ve seen four goals, two assists and a man of the match award today against Greenock Morton.
Oh, and we may also have found a reliable penalty kick taker to replace the soon to be departed Josip Juranovic.
Against the Championship side – as you may expect from a 57 times capped internationalist – he completely pulled the strings from start to finish.
Into the bargain he opened the scoring with a penalty, before also grabbing the last goal of the day in the comprehensive 5-0 win.
It wasn’t until the trip to Easter Road to face Hibs in late December that Mooy notched his first two goals for the club (another one from the spot) but by that point you could slowly see the fitness – and the confidence – returning to the player with each passing performance.
Far from any of us to tell Ange what to do but many (this writer included) are of the opinion that he should then have started at Ibrox on the 2nd of January.
However a place on the bench would have to do and it was his introduction after an hour that sparked some life into a Celtic side who were uncharacteristically flat on the day.
Linking up with Jota as the game approached the 90 minute mark he played a pivotal part in the move that ended with Kyogo’s first goal against Rangers and earned a vital draw on the day.
So Where Does Arron Mooy Fit in Celtic’s Midfield?
While many thought Mooy would compete in the No.6 position that Callum McGregor has made his own it’s clear than Ange sees him as someone to fill one of the two more advanced roles in the midfield.
At present he’s nudged Matt O’Riley and David Turnbull down the pecking order and is now making a serious case to be the preferred starter alongside Reo Hatate in Ange’s best midfield three.
Never a player blessed with pace, his composure and technical ability more than make up for it as he manipulates tight situations and displays the kind of vision befitting of a player who’s now starred in two World Cups.
To date the only silverware Mooy has lifted in his career is the 2012/13 A-League title back in his native Australia with Western Sydney Wanderers.
I’ve a feeling all that’s about to change.
On his arrival many thought Celtic’s midfield didn’t need him.
I’d argue that we now can’t do without him.