MK Dons boss Liam Manning has revealed he’s not surprised at how quickly Matt O’Riley has become a popular figure at Celtic and proved his quality north of the border.
The 21-year-old joined the Glasgow club in the January window after catching the eye with his brilliant form for the League One side in the first half of the 2021/22 campaign, which saw him score seven goals and provide seven assists.
O’Riley has quickly cemented his place in Ange Postecoglou’s side – starting all three games since his arrival and helping them win all three as he’s quickly become a firm fan favourite.
Pressed on this Celtic development, Manning indicated that it was no surprise to him to see the midfielder taking the cinch Premiership by storm.
He said (via the MK Citizen): “Matt is a really good player, he did really well for us and went with our best wishes.
“It doesn’t surprise me the way he’s made the transition. He understands the game, he has some really good qualities.
“It’s nice to see him go there and do well and I hope it goes well for him.”
A product of the Fulham academy, O’Riley rejected a new contract offer and left the west London club in July 2020 in search of more first team opportunities.
He had to wait until the following January to get those but soon after joining MK Dons he became a key figure and went on to scored 10 times and add eight assists in 54 appearances for them.
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Though it will have been gutting to see him go, Manning’s stance will likely be reflected by the majority of MK Dons fans, who will want to see O’Riley succeed at Celtic.
He’s certainly made a very strong start and already has an Old Firm derby win under his belt, having played his part in the 3-0 victory against Rangers earlier this week.
O’Riley’s success will be good for the club as well, particularly if he secures a Premier League move, as it will convince other bright young players that Stadium MK is a good proving ground and can lead to big things.
There are a few more players in Manning’s squad that could make a similar step in the near future, though supporters will be hoping that doesn’t happen too soon.