Tomoki Iwata: I will earn the manager’s trust

Tomoki Iwata has seen his minutes on the park limited for a while now at Celtic and many are beginning to question whether or not the summer recruit still has a future at the club under Brendan Rodgers. That’s merely speculation of course and nobody can predict how things will turn out from week-to-week in football. Look at Liam Scales as the perfect example.

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Tomoki has seen his time on the field in green and white mainly used in defence under our former boss, Ange Postecoglou. He was the one who decided to bring the MVP from the J-League over to there shores this past January transfer window and with that initial loan deal having an obligation to buy for the club’s hierarchy, so Brendan Rodgers already had the player regardless.

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ROTTERDAM – Tomoki Iwata of Celtic FC during the UEFA Champions League match between Feyenoord and Celtic FC at Feyenoord Stadion de Kuip on September 19, 2023 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. ANP Hollandse Hoogte JEROEN PUTMANS Group E – UEFA Champions League. Photo VI ANP Sportx/ Jeroen Putmans IV

From what we’ve all seen, the Japanese star looks relatively comfortable on the ball and tidy in possession most of the time. Although we’ve never really see him getting enough of a run to judge him properly in this current Celtic team. However, having watched him in defence on a few occasions now, it’s clear that he is better suited as a defensive midfielder for sure. There is his issue though; how can he get into the packed midfield area with Callum McGregor, Matt O’Riley, Reo Hatate, David Turnbull and Odin Thiago Holm?

Celtic v Athletic Bilbao –  Tomoki Iwata has an attempt on goal during the pre-season friendly match Celtic Park, on Tuesday August 1, 2023. Photo Robert Perry

The simple answer is he has to make the most of the sporadic minutes he gets in the game and earn the manager’s trust. And that’s just what the player intends to do moving forward this year. Speaking to Japanese publication Football Zone (via Daily Record), he said: “It’s going to be quite difficult as the two players who were sent off against Feyenoord will be suspended, but Carter-Vickers will also be back after being out due to injury.

“It’s unclear whether I’ll be able to play on the pitch. However, I will try to appeal in training in order to seize the opportunity. By gradually increasing my chances to play in this way and I can make the coach realise that I am a player who can bring something positive to the team.”

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ROTTERDAM – Tomoki Iwata during the UEFA Champions League match between Feyenoord and Celtic FC at Feyenoord Stadion de Kuip on September 19, 2023.  Photo ANP Hollandse Hoogte JEROEN PUTMANS

On his best attributes and where he sees himself in this Celtic team, he added: “In the match against Feyenoord Calvin Stengs, who was below the top of the opponent, was attacking us one-on-one in a fairly narrow space. I want to show that I can stop a player like that. That’s my strength, and it’s my selling point. If I can pitch in as a midfielder, I feel like I’ll be able to match up with the opponent’s key players more often and have more opportunities to show off.”

SCO: Celtic FC v Athletic Club – Tomoki Iwata during the pre-season friendly match between Celtic FC and Athletic Club at Celtic Park on August 1, 2023. Photo Ricardo Larreina

Iwata also feels as though he can help the team in any way from a defensive point of view and alluded to his time with Yokohama F. Marinos as an example of this adaptability. “However, my strength is also that I can play a wide range of positions as a midfielder, wing back and centre-back,” he said. “During my time at Marinos, I contributed to the team by playing a variety of roles and won titles. In the same way, in the current environment, I just have to do my best every day.”

Paul Gillespie

About Author

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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