CARDIFF City’s new signing Tony Watt delivered a promising debut performance in last Saturday’s 2-2 home draw with Burnley – and his manager thinks there’s more to come.
The 21-year-old striker played the first 62 minutes of the match, having joined on loan from Charlton only five days before. His industrious performance impressed the home fans, who warmly applauded him as he was substituted.
Throughout the match they could even be heard chanting his name to the tune of the Arrow hit, Hot Hot Hot.
Cardiff manager Russell Slade shared the fans’ view of his new recruit.
Speaking after the match, he said: “We saw some very positive things from him. He had a very positive run in the first half when he got at their back four. He was twisting and turning, and his shot went narrowly past the post.
“I thought there were some good things from him, and if we can get a bit more work in him, I think we are going to have a real asset.”
Watt’s display was characteristically direct. The Scot’s game has always been built on running with pace at defenders and shooting on sight.
This can make for exhilarating play, and there was one such moment in the first half when Watt drove through a crowd of Burnley players, showing great speed and close control before unleashing a shot that went just wide.
But Watt’s directness can sometimes border on tunnel vision. Several promising Cardiff attacks broke down because of Watt’s reluctance to play a sideways pass.
Three years ago Watt gained fame as the teenager who scored the winner in Celtic’s unexpected Champions League victory against Barcelona.
The Barcelona defence could not cope with Watt. Playing in front of 60,000 fans and given just 20 minutes of game time, he produced a remarkably composed finish and showed searing pace to draw a tackle from Javier Mascherano that should have resulted in a penalty.
The goal made Watt a favourite among Celtic fans, but not long afterwards disciplinary issues began to arise.
There were reports of Watt failing to apply himself in training, and his manager, Neil Lennon, admitted: “There’s an immaturity about Tony.”
Watt was sent on loan to Belgian side Lierse, where both his goalscoring ability and attitude problems resurfaced.
After he came on as a substitute in one game and scored two goals, his manager Stanley Menzo said: “Today I am glad we have him but tomorrow I might want to murder him. That’s just how it is with him.”
After returning from the loan, Watt was sold to another Belgian side, Standard Liege, in the summer of 2014. Again he failed to settle, and within six months he had signed for Charlton in the Championship.
Watt initially impressed for Charlton. He started this season with three goals in three games, but then failed to score in the following 13. There were reports of friction with manager Karel Fraeye.
Watt has only joined Cardiff on a two-month loan, but WalesOnline have reported that the club have an option to make the deal permanent.
Cardiff have signed a player with undisputed potential and a point to prove. Fans of the club will be hoping that Watt can continue his promising start with a good display against the Championship’s bottom side Bolton on Saturday.