When Callum Paterson signed for the Bluebirds back in last June, he was somewhat of an unknown quantity. He arrived at the club with a long term injury, having suffered serious knee ligament damage during his time at Hearts. This long term injury affected his career in more ways than one, as he was priorly linked with a move to the Premier League with West Ham United.
However, the extent of the injury didn’t faze Neil Warnock, as he took a punt on the 5 time capped Scotland international. Paterson, signed primarily as a right back, was known for his versatility during his time playing in Scotland, and came with a more than respectable scoring record for a player who regularly played at the back. Between 2012 and 2017, Paterson hit the back of the net 33 times in 137 appearances.Embed from Getty Images
On signing for Cardiff, Paterson said, “Anyone that has watched me has seen that I like to attack. I’m athletic and I like to go forward and try and get on the end of crosses. I’m a great attacker and I like to score my goals, so hopefully I can come here and score a few too.”
During his tenure at Tynecastle, Paterson had also played on the right hand side of midfield, and occasionally as a striker, when the club were short of options. With Jazz Richards and Lee Peltier already at the club, Cardiff fans were unsure where Paterson would fit into Warnock’s plans upon his return from his horrific injury.
On the 21st of October, Paterson made his first team debut for the club after coming on as a second half substitute at Middlesbrough’s Riverside stadium. From there on in, Paterson, when selected, was predominantly used as a right winger. Warnock saw Paterson’s physicality and aerial ability as the reason why.
As the season progressed, so did the length of Cardiff’s injury list, and as a result, saw Paterson moved into the midfield as part of a three. Fans favourite, Aron Gunnarsson and Derby loanee, Craig Bryson, picked up long term injuries which gave the Scot the opportunity to show what he can do in the centre of the park.
After a relatively slow start to his new found position, Paterson has been a revelation of late. His work rate, physicality, and ability to win practically every aerial challenge has done himself no harm, as he continues to be picked ahead of former France under-20 international, Loic Damour, in the Cardiff midfield. His performance last Saturday at Elland Road was simply sublime. In my reckoning, it was the best individual performance from a Cardiff midfielder in quite some time. Paterson’s protection of the back four, while still having a massive influence on the game going forward, was magnificent.
His goal came from a header with thanks to an Armand Traore cross. The Scot has the goal scoring instincts of a centre forward, as he picked up a good position in the six yard box, and casually powered the ball into the back of the net, despite the best efforts of Leeds’ physical and tough tackling centre half Pontus Jansson, leaving Felix Wiedwald with no chance in the Leeds United goal.
For City’s second goal, a long ball was played up to Madine, who failed to make contact, but did enough to make sure the Leeds centre half didn’t make any contact with the ball either. Paterson was on hand to pick up the loose ball, drive into the opposition box, and got a shot away, albeit with his weaker left foot. The striker was dragging wide, but out of nowhere, Junior Hoilett made a run back post to knock the ball into the back of the net to put the Bluebirds 2-0 up. Although you could say there was an air of fortune for this assist, Paterson he still had the desire to create an opportunity for himself out of nothing as he flew past the the opposition back line.
Let’s not forget that Warnock’s surprise new midfielder also played a major factor in Cardiff’s fourth. He received a square ball in the penalty area after Hoilett won back possession, and create space for himself with a bit of trickery. Once again Paterson picked up a great position in the box, giving himself plenty of space. The former Hearts man then was composed enough to knock the ball out of his feet, in order to play a delightful and inviting ball across the face of goal, which gave the recently rejuvenated Anthony Pilkington a chance which he simply could not miss.
Let’s hope that Paterson can replicate this kind of form going forward, starting at Millwall on this coming Friday night. It will bode well for City’s promotion chances as we approach the business end of the season.