Brendan Rodgers reckons that it’s an urban myth that he’s changed Kyogo’s game and that as a consequence the goals have dried up for Celtic’s Japanese striker.
And he also argued that Kyogo dropping out of the team for the recent matches against Hibs and Kilmarnock has nothing to do with his goalscoring drought but simply is a realisation that no player can be expected to play in every match during such a busy spell.
Rodgers has also spoken over the past few weeks of the need to give game-time to the players who have been patient waiting their chance and that has come Oh’s way over the past few matches. Tonight though it will be Kyogo who leads the line against Feyenoord at Celtic Park.
“I’ve seen him play over the last couple of seasons, and he’s got the issue with his shoulder. Nothing has changed in Kyogo’s game. He’s not been asked to play any differently. His strength is his penetration. That’s his game, running in behind and timing his runs,” Rodgers explained as reported by Scottish Sun.
“You have to make ten runs maybe to only get it once, but that’s your job as a striker. So there’s been nothing changed in that. We are looking to add to Kyogo when the ball comes in. If you look at his numbers and stats he was very rarely involved in the game, and especially when you are playing teams who are sat low in the pitch.
“He’s not going to have a lot of numbers. Sometimes then as a striker what do is you wander a bit to come underneath for the ball. There’s been absolutely nothing different asked of him because his strength is playing off the last line, timing his movements and being instinctive in the opposition box.
“He’s not a dribbler, he’s not someone who does drop in. He can do it but it’s not his strength.”
And the Celts manager confirmed that Kyogo will start this evening against Feyenoord as another sorry Champions League campaign draws to a close.
“He will play. I think we have to be fair to Kyogo and some of the other boys too. They can’t play in every single game. He’s shown up well at this level. He’s been a threat in every game he’s played, and instinctively in the box he can get goals.
“Strikers go through wee stages at times where you can sometimes chase the goal, or maybe you don’t like the pass, or you look for it so much. But that’s what goal scorers do. It’s not a worry. There’s nothing different in his game.
“We went through his video stuff the other week. We looked primarily on the fact I don’t need him dropping in so much. When you’re playing in a lot of games where teams are sat deep, you don’t get a kick of the ball really unless it comes into the box.
“So what do you do? You start wandering, and that’s the challenge for a striker who wants to affect games. But Kyogo is very receptive. He’s not a baby, remember, he’s 28. There is no good in him having 40 touches if we’re not creating anything. That’s not what he is, he’s not a creator. Kyogo’s a guy on the last line who makes runs and is there to finish the moves. And you have to be there to finish the move.”
The one point that Brendan Rodgers didn’t address was the reduction in service from the wings which contributed so much to Kyogo’s goalscoring exploits under Ange Postecoglou. The sale of Jota, plus losing Liel Abada and also more recently Daizen Maeda to injury, has reduced Celtic’s creative potency in the wide areas with Yang, Mikey Johnston and James Forrest all struggling to impress when given the chance on the right and Luis Palma inconsistent on the left.
Sort that and Kyogo starts scoring regularly.