As we have hit the unofficial halfway point of the season, now is a good time to take stock of how Celtic’s playing squad are doing under Brendan Rodgers.

With the club sitting pretty at the top of the Scottish Premiership table after a fruitful festive period, this would suggest that the first half of the season has been a largely successful one. However, this viewpoint only covers half of this campaign’s story, as Rodgers’ return has been littered with ups and downs since arriving back at the club he managed between 2016 to 2019. From the highs against Rangers, Atletico Madrid and Feyenoord, to the lows versus Hearts, Kilmarnock and Lazio, it has been a rollercoaster covering and following the football club so far this season.

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When the former Liverpool and Leicester manager was heavily linked with the job, there was a common opinion among many that he would improve players who were already at the club, whose development under previous manager Ange Postecoglou was gradual and steady. Known for his elite man-management skills, he would have been excited to work with a side that – on paper at least – was far stronger than the one he inherited back in 2016.

With all of that being said – using StatsBomb player radars – The Celtic Way analyses how some of Postecoglou’s existing players have fared under the returning Rodgers at Celtic…

Cameron Carter-Vickers

Thanks to a plethora of injuries at the heart of the defence – including to himself - Carter-Vickers is the only viable central defender to talk about here, as Liam Scales’ stats would be for Aberdeen thanks to his loan spell up north.

Celtic’s best defender since Virgil van Dijk, the American international is a mainstay in the side when he is fit. Judging by his player radar, it is easy to see why. A mammoth both in possession and off of the ball, Carter-Vickers sets the standard for Celtic’s other central defenders to follow, making them better players in the process.

A key metric, Carter-Vickers’ passing has improved from last season so far, going up a percentage from 93 to 94, in turn, his percentile increasing from 98 to 99 respectively. This is not the only area where he has improved, as his foul total has dropped from the season prior, indicating further maturity in his game. 0.76 to 0.56 in successive seasons, this reduction in fouls per game has allowed for his percentile to increase from 75 to 90, a marked improvement.

Elsewhere, his aerial wins have also improved from 5.03 to 5.46, a percentile increase of two, while his percentage of area wins has stayed the same at 81, an impressive total despite his somewhat smaller frame for a centre-back. Though not an essential requirement for his position, Carter-Vickers has improved on his pressure total from 4.12 to 4.58, his percentile still low at three, all the same.

If Celtic can keep Carter-Vickers fit for a sustained period, then you would imagine these numbers to get even better with more game-time. Still, very encouraging from the almost irreplaceable defender.

Alistair Johnston

Sticking with the defence, Alistair Johnston has been an ever-present member of the starting line-up for both managers since his move from CF Montreal last winter. Looking at the Canada stalwart’s player radar makes for interesting viewing and reading. A common thought this season so far has been that of a perceived drop in form from the right-back, though his statistics seem to suggest otherwise.

Let’s deal with the negative statistics first, as his passing accuracy percentage has dropped from 86 to 83, though his percentile is still high at 90, despite it being at the 97th percentile under Postecoglou. His successful dribbles have stagnated, staying at 0.40 and the 22nd percentile under both managers, whilst he gives away more fouls at an increased rate of 0.10 from 1.20 to 1.30 (44th to 36th percentile).

Virtually every other metric is up on last season apart from the ones previously discussed. The most drastic change is concerning pressures, which have increased from 9.34 to 13.61, a percentile rise of 53 in the process. His deep progressions have also increased in volume, as his 9.47 average last season has risen to 10.44 this campaign, though he remains in the 99th percentile. Other positive differentials have been discovered in turnovers and aerial wins, though these are small. For the former, he has positively decreased his clumsiness on the ball from 0.73 to 0.68 (89 to 91 in percentile), meanwhile, the latter sits at 2.09 per game, an increase of 0.16 (percentile increase of four).

Finally, he has a tackle/dribbled past percentage of 85, a rise of nine from the season prior and a percentile increase of 27 in the process. Statistics only act as a guide for how a player is coping with matters on the pitch, but these metrics seem to suggest that Johnston is improving, despite many believing the contrary. Here’s hoping his impressive statistical data can translate to his performances on-field when the winter break concludes.

Callum McGregor

This next player is probably the one who should be the most acclimatised to Rodgers’ methods and style, given the fact he was there for the full duration the first time around.

Indeed, the captain has also come under fire from some due to a few lacklustre performances this season. However, his performances in both Glasgow Derbies have been two of his best Celtic performances to date, suggesting a mixed season from number 42. Looking at his radars from the last two seasons, that argument about a mixed season can certainly be backed up using this metrical data.

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On the positive findings, McGregor’s passing has increased from 92 to 93 per cent, staying at the 99th percentile. He has also won more fouls on average this season, rising from 0.54 to 0.72, though still at a low percentile of 14. His assisted xG has also gone up slightly from 0.08 to 0.12 per game, which may be down to playing further forward for parts of this season, indicating a percentile increase of 18 in doing so.

Conversely, his negatives have also been illustrated on the player radars statistically. Deep progressions have decreased from 9.14 to 8.41, a single percentile drop from 97 to 96. Successful dribbles have also lowered from 0.66 to 0.38 per game (29 percentile drop from 0.66 to 0.38), while he is also down on both pressures and pressure regains (both are on 0 each for percentile units). Perhaps most concerning is in turnovers, as McGregor has on average committed more under a more familiar boss in Rodgers than under Postecoglou. From 1.14 to 1.52 per game, this indicates a lack of care on the ball, which shows in percentile data as his 58 has dropped to 39 as a direct consequence of these actions.

Perhaps the good recent performance has not fully been translated from the eye-test to statistical data, but the captain will be hoping for better numbers in the second half of the season. His performances may be the difference between winning and losing the window, given his importance in the engine room under Rodgers. A vitally important player, who thankfully looks to have turned a corner after a mixed period under Rodgers.

Matt O’Riley

Speaking of the engine room, we could not complete this analysis piece without talking about the standout player this season in O’Riley.

Easily Celtic’s player of the season so far, the Denmark cap has been a revelation under Rodgers, who has taken his game onto a new level concerning goals and assists. That being said, what does the data have to say about O’Riley’s efforts thus far?

As you may have expected, O’Riley’s stats live up to the on-field hype surrounding him this campaign. Now a deadly finisher for the club, the attacking midfielder’s xG has increased from 0.20 to 0.32, a marked improvement in value and percentile. His 22/23 total sat on the 69th percentile, while this season it has risen to 93, an incredible rise of 24. He takes more shots – displaying confidence in his attacking abilities – which increased from 2.32 to 2.77. a small change, but one which put him into the 89th percentile all the same. Surprisingly, he turns over the ball less despite this change in attacking efficiency, dropping from 2.92 to 2.50, putting Celtic’s number 33 in the 78th percentile for this metric. His touches in the box have also risen, now in the 99th percentile with 8.39 per game, a total that was at 7.72 last campaign.

Not all of his statistics have seen increases, though there are no horror stories concerning his performances in any metrics. His pass OBV has dropped from 0.12 to 0.06, a percentile change of 23, whilst his possession-adjusted pressures have also decreased from 28.93 to 21.91, resulting in a 10 percentile deduction in this metric. Still, his 88th percentile rating for this season suggests he is still a good contributor in this area, with a bigger focus on making and scoring goals potentially the reason for these drops.

Regardless of the stats posted in his radars, you cannot argue with his goals and assist totals, as he is sometimes single-handedly winning games for the club with his attacking prowess. It is scary to think about how good O’Riley could be in the years to come, either at Celtic or elsewhere.

Kyogo Furuhashi

The poster boy of ‘Angeball’, Kyogo has struggled this season on the goals front, though he has had his moments – not unlike his captain – during big games.

One of the players that Rodgers was looking forward to working with most following his arrival, Kyogo has been encouraged to get involved with play more, which may have hurt his totals in the process.

Looking into the metrical statistics from last season to this current campaign, the radars illustrate a player who has had trouble getting used to the system that his new manager has tried to implement. Despite only dropping three percentiles from 98 to 95, his xG average has lowered by 0.09 to 0.54 per game. Not surprising, given the lack of service the Japan star receives from his teammates. This is despite the fact he takes more shots, a 0.07 increase to 3.30 from the season prior. He averages fewer touches in the box, too, dropping to the 77th percentile with 6.66 per 90 minutes, which is probably down to him needing to move out of the box to get service.

His defensive work is not anything to write home about, either. He puts his team under pressure by turning the ball over more this season than last at a rate of 2.40 per game, a lowering in percentile of 11. His pressures are also down on the prior campaign (11.07 – 15 percentile drop), as well as regains off of pressures (2.01 - 23 percentile drop), pointing to a struggle in all aspects for the striker this season.

He will be feeling a lot better about himself after that big goal against Rangers, but Rodgers needs to get a whole lot more out of his star striker, both in goals and in statistical data. A work in progress for sure, but one that is showing shoots of growth at long last, especially in the biggest games.


Overall, the metrics point to several statistical improvements to players who were already at the club last season, the biggest being that of O’Riley in midfield. There were even some surprising upturns for the likes of Carter-Vickers and particularly Johnston in midfield.

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However, there still seems to be a cloud over Celtic’s main attacking outlet in Kyogo, who is not at the top of his game this campaign. Still, there is still another half of the season to play out, so there is plenty of time for Kyogo to turn things round as we head into the business end of the season.

Plenty of positives, but plenty to work on as the season gets ever closer to resuming…