Monday, 4 March 2013

Watt's happened to Tony?

Watt made an extremely impressive start at Celtic
Remember that teenager who scored against Barcelona to give Celtic one of their greatest ever wins? Where has he gone?

Since that night, it seems Tony Watt has drifted further and further away from first team selection. After such a promising start to his Celtic career, I am just curious as to why he isn’t getting much of a shout now.

Watt, prior to signing for Airdrie, had only played football for fun. When he impressed in a bounce game at under 17 level, he soon broke into Airdrie’s first team. During the January transfer market in 2011, several clubs were looking at Watt and considering making a move for him. These included the likes of Liverpool, Fulham, Celtic and Rangers. After a trial with Rangers and a week’s training with Liverpool, he signed for Celtic on January 4, for a reported £80,000 on a three-year contract.

Watt impressed during the early stages of his Celtic career, including scoring a goal against Barcelona in the NextGen Series.

Watt turned the game at 'Well in Celtic's favour
Celtic manager Neil Lennon then decided young Watt was ready to make his full Celtic debut.

That day came on April 22, 2012, when he came on as a substitute away to Motherwell. The game was drifting when the 18-year-old striker replaced Pawel Brozek in the 59th minute, but it came to life when he volleyed in a Victor Wanyama cross three minutes later from a tight angle. With the travelling support still celebrating, he drove low past Well goalkeeper Darren Randolph from the edge of the box, to make a name for himself and give the Celtic fans more reasons to be optimistic for the future. It seemed we had another bright, talented star on our hands.

With the omission of Rangers from Scotland’s top flight this year, I, for one, was confident this would be the ideal chance for Neil Lennon to bring through players from the reserve and youth leagues. The likes of Watt, McGeough, the Twardzik twins and many more.

This looked to be the case, Watt was involved in Celtic’s squad more week than not. This season, Watt has made 24 appearances in all competitions, scoring six goals. Is this too much for someone so young and still in the early stages of his development?

That’s one of the question that many Celtic fans are asking about Tony Watt. Although he has shown himself to be an excellent prospect, it’s easy to forget that he is only 19-years-old. He has went through a lot, in footballing terms, for such a young man - has this played a negative or positive role in his career to date?

On the 7th of November, Celtic welcomed Barcelona to Glasgow, and, well, you know what happens. Watt came on and scored what proved to be the winner against the world’s best side. Is there a concern he peaked too early? Watt wants to prove this isn’t the case.

Watt was a regular in the Celtic first team squad
“The Barca game’s behind me. I’ve only scored one goal for Celtic since I scored against them, so I need to prove to the fans I’m not just a one hit wonder.” Watt admitted.

So after such a promising start, why has he fallen out of favour with Neil Lennon?

I have seen a few fans claiming Watt’s attitude has been a problem since he scored against Barcelona. Has the fame gone to his head? The last thing you want a young, hopeful talent to have is a big ego. Confidence and a certain degree of swagger (apologies for using the word swagger in one of my articles) is understandable for footballers. But is this why Lennon isn’t picking him on a more regular basis now?

I think something must be wrong if Miku and Lassad are getting the nod, in front of Watt. I would rather see a youngster come off the bench to make a difference. I’m sure this isn’t an unpopular opinion amongst the Celtic support.

Bright future
Seems a bit strange how he can go from scoring against Barcelona, to being demoted back to the under 20’s squad. I have also seen some fans claim he isn’t putting the effort in when training. As well as acting ‘the big shot’ whilst out and about in Glasgow. Obviously this is all pure speculation.

Perhaps I am looking too much into this. Lennon is a smart man and manager, he knows what he’s doing, but some clarity would be appreciated. Is it just the case that he wants to protect one of our hottest prospects, or is there something that we aren’t being told?

Celtic have had previous players who have promised so much from their career, but for one reason or another, it hasn’t worked out.

Liam Miller is the first one that springs to mind. I won’t go in-depth about this, but after he finally broke into the Celtic squad in the 03/04 season, he put in numerous impressive performances, including scoring goal in the Champions League against Lyon. After turning down a contract with Celtic, he moved to Manchester United where it didn’t work out. He is now playing with Perth Glory.

There are other examples, such as Craig Beattie, David Marshall, Paul Caddis (remember him?!) and I could go on. I just hope Tony Watt won’t be added to this list. He has a fantastic opportunity, one that everyone reading this would have at one point or another dreamed about, he needs to work hard and keep his head down.

The aim of this article was to find out what everyone thinks about this about the Tony Watt situation. What do you think is the case? Feel free to leave a comment putting across your opinions.

Twitter: @Kieran_Psyl