Tony Watt must prove his bad boy reputation is of the past

Charlton's Tony Watt in action with Preston's Greg Cunningham

Signing on loan to Hearts from Charlton Athletic represents an opportunity for Tony Watt to kill off bad accusations from an image problem, first formed in Scotland.

Charlton's Tony Watt in action with Preston's Greg Cunningham

This move will be his eighth in a six-year professional career. That in itself reinforces the negative perception of the Scotsman.

At former club Celtic, as reported by the Daily Record, manager Neil Lennon branded him “immature” after leaving on loan to Belgian side Lierse, where he would publicly fall out with their manager. 

Tony Watt - Celtic

Upon his return to Parkhead, new boss Ronny Deila questioned his dedication to training after shipping Watt to Standard Liege — signing a five-year deal but only lasting 12 months. Even Mark McGhee was critical prior to the 22-year-old making his international debut.

That has to stop. Watt must silence the waves of criticism by showing his dedication on the field. And Hearts have given him every chance to do so.

It is surprising to see manager Robbie Neilson go for a player with this bad a reputation. Hearts adopted a new regime when owner Ann Budge was given control, believing in hard work and discipline: the opposite of their new signing.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson holds the matchball

No doubt it’s a gamble but Watt has developed attributes that show it is one that could be worth taking. Fast and robust in possession whilst possessing a deadly eye for goal, Watt will be forever remembered for his winning goal against Barcelona for the Hoops in 2012.

The stability of being back with his family and the fierce competition for a forward spot in the starting eleven at Tynecastle can both act as an urge to finally fully function a clear talent.

Hearts turned their fortunes round by consolidating third spot in the Premiership last season two years after being relegated. Now it’s time for Watt to do the same.

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