TONY WATT has accused Stanley Menzo of slapping him as he launched a stinging attack on his former manager.
The 26-year-old has lifted the lid on his fractious relationship with the Dutch boss during his 2013/14 campaign on loan with Belgian side Lierse.
Watt managed to score eight goals in 16 appearances and was pivotal to their survival bid – yet he never saw eye-to-eye with Menzo, who described him as ‘physically not good’ and repeatedly left him out of match-day squads.
Their hostility towards one another came to a head in the second half of the season when, having lost all respect for Menzo, Watt refused to shake his hand on the team bus.
The hot-headed coach then allegedly struck the ex-Celtic man.
Watt said: “He’s the only manager who has ever slapped me in the face.
“The day before a game he called a meeting and my head was already gone with him. I was’t listening.
“Menzo was looking at me saying ‘this guy thinks he’s Messi, he keeps letting you down’. But we were winning games and I was flying. I asked him what he was talking about, I was scoring every week.
“Every day abroad you shake hands and when the time came I thought ‘f*** that, I’m not shaking hands one more time, not a chance in hell’. I had given him all the respect I could.
“He came up the bus, shook every hand and when he went to shake mine I looked away. He just slapped my head. I was like ‘what the f*** are you doing?’ He stormed down the bus saying ‘he’s not playing, he’s not playing’.
“Eventually the boys spoke to him and said ‘right, you’re playing – but just don’t speak to him’.
“I went out and scored two goals and was sitting in the changing room, smug as you like, thinking ‘get it right up you’.
That was the nadir of a relationship which appeared doomed from the outset.
Speaking on the Lower League Ramblings podcast, the Scotland international revealed that Menzo slated his debut for the club despite him scoring within a MINUTE of coming on against Kortrijk.
Watt continued: “I came on for my first game and scored with my first touch.
“I was nutmegging people and one of the boys came over and said ‘hey, you are a Scottish Wayne Rooney, you don’t lose the ball!’ I said ‘aye, very good.
“Then I go in the changing room after the game and he comes in and say ‘that’s not good enough, you don’t work hard enough’. I had scored and ran about like a blue arsed fly!
“The next day he had me running and was shouting ‘you don’t run enough, who do you think you are?’ From that day forward he was just and absolute egg.
“I played against Anderlecht and looked sharp; felt sharp. I got a text from [Celtic coach] Chris McCart saying ‘Tony, if you play like that for the rest of the season, you’ll have most teams in Europe after you’. Then Menzo drops me.”
The situation almost came to a head in winter as Watt threatened to walk out on the club after being frozen out.
Only mitigation from former Fulham striker Tomas Radzinski – sporting director of Lierse at the time and the man who signed Watt – kept him in Belgium.
He continued: “It got to December and he wasn’t speaking to me. I was like ‘f*** this’, I’m not putting up with this.
“He had dropped me for two games in a row and we had a couple of arguments, then he says in the press he’s dropping me for three games.
“I phoned Tomas Radzinski and said ‘listen, I’m going home mate, there’s no point me being here’. But he told me I’d be in the squad for the next game and told Menzo was one game away from losing his job.
“So I get on at 0-0 against our big rivals Mechelen and I get the goal to make it 1-0, then it goes 2-0 and I dink the keeper to make it 3-0. He didn’t even look at me, didn’t say thanks – nothing. I’d just saved his job.”
Watt was left under the impression that he may be able to cut short his loan deal with Lierse in January 2014 and fight for his place at Celtic.
However, after what he perceived to be a U-turn from Hoops gaffer Lennon, he completed the season and impressed sufficiently to land a £1.5m switch to giants Standard Liege – no thanks to Menzo.
Watt added: “Lenny said he’d bring me back, they just needed someone out the door first. Then in the press that night it says ‘we’re not bringing him back, just let him learn over there’. I was like ‘that doesn’t sound like what you said to me earlier!’
“I went back and Menzo was still in charge but I thought ‘f*** this, I’m not even listening to him’. I did my own thing.”