Cardiff City today confirmed Bristol City’s Lee Tomlin as their seventh summer signing for an undisclosed fee.
The 28-year-old is as controversial on the pitch as his cross-border move from Bristol City to Severnside rivals Cardiff City this afternoon.
And the Bluebirds faithful have seen plenty of that side of their new man with a number of controversial performances against their team.
Tomlin grabbed a goal against Cardiff in Neil Warnock’s first game and first win as the new boss back in October at the Cardiff City Stadium – and some goal it was.
However, Cardiff fans will have stronger memories of a player who is the centre of attention for many of the wrong reasons, and that has led to some opposition from fans following this afternoon’s announcement.
There’s no doubt that he’s a player who gets the better of his opposition through pushing buttons, winding up his marker and testing the patience of the referee.
And while many can’t stand the sight of that type of player, you would rather them be playing for you than against you.
A defeat to Aston Villa at Villa Park last season springs to mind when Jack Grealish haunted the Bluebirds.
The youngster pushed buttons, completely unsettled and got the better of Cardiff and while he didn’t leave the field with many fans in South Wales, he was the difference in his team picking up three points and that was the key on the day.
A Tomlin-like player has been missing from Cardiff City squads for a number of years – there haven’t been enough players with attitude who will disturb the opposition, and indeed disturb his own team in the changing room.
As strange as that may sound, many professionals claim that the best teams are helped by a member of the changing room who isn’t afraid to get issues out in the open.
Not too dissimilar from Michael Chopra perhaps, or even a Ross McCormack – a superb player whose attitude has probably got the better of him in recent years.
And that serves as a reminder that while Tomlin may add what the Bluebirds are missing, it will be up to Neil Warnock to keep him on a short leash and to ensure he has the right affect on and off the pitch.
It’s something Warnock usually specialises in, having got the best out of players like Adel Taarabt at Queens Park Rangers in the past.
As Neil Warnock says himself, ‘there are no guarantees in football’, but Tomlin seems a good fit for Cardiff and their manager.
He’s a player who is determined to improve his attitude and focussed on striking a consistent spell, something he has struggled to do in recent seasons.
Speaking to The Football League Paper in 2016, he said: “I’ve heard it all, but I’ve always said that once you work with me, you’ll see I’m not a bad person. I think a lot of people misunderstand me. I play on the edge – always have – and that’s how I get the best out of myself.
“In the past, I’d channel it badly. When people brought me down, I’d get frustrated, lash out. But if you look at my record, I haven’t been sent off for a couple of years now.
“I try not to get as annoyed. I try to see it as a positive – if they’re fouling me, it’s because they’re scared of me.”
The words of someone who at least seems determined to get his career firmly back on track.
Since that interview, he has struggled to make the desired impact in a Bristol City team who dodged relegation to League One in the last few weeks.
However, he and Neil Warnock will be hoping he can make a more telling impact on a team targeting a return to the Premier League.
(Featured image: Ben Sutherland)