Matt O’Riley rates his season after PFA Scotland nomination

Matt O’Riley spoke with Sky Sports Scotland this afternoon in light of being nominated for this year’s PFA Scotland Awards. The Celtic star has definitely improved his game since Brendan Rodgers arrived, with the Irishman encouraging the Dane to get on the scoresheet more often as well as chipping in with more assists to take his game up another level.

In a season when it’s been slim pickings in terms of individual performances, as the team have taken a bit of adjustment in the aftermath of Ange Postecoglou’s departure to thr Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur, Matty has been the one who has arguably been most consistent out of him and all of his Hoops teammates.

At his club, he is also in the running for Player of the Year and the man who has been nominated on both fronts said of his season to date: “Yeah it’s been good. I think I’ve really improved. Taken my game to somewhat another level this season, which is probably been mainly to a few more goals, I think. My general game, probably hasn’t improved drastically. Just like little details and stuff. But that’s probably something I’ve tired to add a little bit more.”

When asked about what has caused this goalscoring form in his eyes, the midfielder replied: “On the pitch for a little bit longer, which always helps. I’m fortunate enough to play ninety minutes pretty much every game. I think quite a lot of my goals have come after 70 minutes, something like that. That’s probably helped. The other thing is probably feel significantly better, mentally. More free. On the pitch, naturally, when you get out there, it helps.”

On the mental health aspect of the players game, he added: “It was mainly just a case of where my attention was, to be honest. When the noise is there (Atletico Madrid interest), if your attention is on that, then naturally when your on thr pitch, it’s going to be at the back of your head. Whereas, I kind of addressed that. I spoke to one of the coaches I work with outside of football, and we really just focussed on coming back to basics and it helped a lot.”

When discussing that potential transfer interest from Atletico Madrid, he revealed he’s asked his entourage and those around him to let him focus on his football for now and cross that bridge when he comes to it in the summer again.

Matt O’Riley of Celtic poses for a photo with the PlayStation Player Of The Match award after the draw in the UEFA Champions League match between Celtic FC and Atletico Madrid at Celtic Park Stadium on October 25, 2023 . (Photo by Jan Kruger – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

“Yeah, I have to be fair. I said that to my parents, agents even and people just within the club that want to talk about stuff like that. It’s a big distraction when I’ve got a job to do here.”

On the current title race he and his team are involved in, he added: “Yeah, we’ve just got to win our games really. It’s pretty simple. Main message is taking things a day at a time. You can easily get ahead of yourself and that’s usually when you can trip up. Just going back to training day-by-day and taking each games as it comes.”

O’Riley also thinks that the previous experience within the squad will help with those aims, continuing:

“Yeah. I think it helps massively. We’ve obviously got some really experienced boys in the team as well. Especially people like James Forrest, Callum McGregor, Joe Hart – these kind of guys. When you’ve got guys like that in your dressing room, it helps massively.”

Paul Gillespie

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I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

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