Billy Reid has heard that Celtic’s fans have been rather underwhelmed by the signing of Aaron Mooy and he’s scratching his head to understand why.
Brighton’s assistant manager, who coached the Australian two years ago when Mooy made 31 appearances for The Seagulls in the English Premier League, reckons it was a no brainer for Ange Postecoglou to bring in a tried, tested and trusted campaigner with whom he previously worked at national level Down Under. Former Hamilton boss Reid, Graham Potter’s No 2 at The Amex Stadium, admits the management duo thought so highly of the 31-year-old that they were gutted when he opted to leave Brighton for China at the end of season 2019/20, but with Mooy’s contract at Shanghai Port expiring, he insists a reunion with Postecoglou makes perfect sense for both parties.
Reid told Record Sport : “The manager obviously knows him from his time with the Australia national team, so he’ll have first hand knowledge of Aaron’s character and what he can bring to the team, On both of those fronts there will be nothing to worry about. He’s a model professional, hard-working and dedicated and on top of that, he’s a really good player.
“We took him on loan from Huddersfield and he did really well for us before signing permanently. Then he got a big move, financially, to China and to be honest we were disappointed to lose him because he was in our starting 11 at the time and doing great for us.
“He’s a quiet lad, who just gets on with his business without making any real fuss and he is like that on the field as well.
“But he’s a really effective football player without having to be overly flamboyant. He’s really good on the ball, is willing and able to take it in tight areas and can play off both feet. He uses his body really well and spins out of tight situations.
“I also think he might surprise people by chipping in with a few goals. He’s capable of hitting from distance and getting in the box and is easily capable of scoring six, eight, ten goals a season. He’s a strong boy as well. That’s crucial in the English Premier League and Aaron more than held his own in that regard.”
Reid believes Mooy’s ability to keep his team in possession of the ball will suit Celtic ’s style of play down to the ground. And any fears that he may not be the quickest are nullified, in his opinion, by his sharpness between the ears.
He added: “The supporters liked him down here. His ball retention was excellent and he’s a proper all-round footballer He’s not the quickest player getting about the pitch but he’s got a really good football brain and outstanding positional sense that compensates for that. I think he’ll fit into Celtic’s ethos really well and the manager will know what’s getting.
“They are a team that enjoys the massive share of possession in most matches, so that will suit his style because he’s so good with the ball at his feet. If he was going to a team that hardly had any of the ball and was having to chase and close down the opposition, it might be slightly different but Celtic will suit him down to the ground.
“This isn’t a gamble for Ange Postecoglou. He’s getting a player that he won’t have to get to know and understand. He’s getting experience and a proven international who is going to the World Cup. It makes sense in every respect.”
The fact that Mooy, who spent two seasons at St Mirren before returning home to Oz a decade again, has a working knowledge of the Scottish game - and strong family roots here - further fuels Reid’s belief that everyone will be a winner in this deal.
“Scotland is well known to Aaron, which is also a real bonus,” he said. “He had that spell with St Mirren early in his career, so it’s not as if he will come to Celtic thinking it will be a stroll in the park for him.
“It’s fair to say that some players have come up to Scotland maybe thinking it will be easy - then finding out to their cost it is anything but easy - but Aaron won’t be thinking like that.
“The Scottish Premiership is much maligned at times but I’m always telling people down here that it isn’t easy. I’m sure Aaron doesn’t need to be that because he’s played in it.
“And away from the pitch, he’s married to a Scottish girl, so it will be like coming home in that respect. It’s so important to feel settled when you join a new club and that will help him massively.
“Like everybody else, he won’t be guaranteed his place in the team and will have to fight for it, but he’s more than capable of doing that.”