He has a record of 1 goal in every 3 games and has captained his country in a career spanning over a decade and eight different clubs, but this season Manchester City finally brought the very best out of Craig Bellamy. Bellamy has a record of 7 goals in 15 for the Northerners and is in the form of his life.
Whilst playing for his ex Wales teammate Mark Hughes at Eastlands, Bellamy has put in match-winning performances against Arsenal and Sunderland and was also devastating in this season’s unforgettable Manchester derby. Hughes’ abrupt sacking straight after his team’s 4-3 win at home to Sunderland may not benefit certain players such as Bellamy. The Welshman was playing with a freedom which he didn’t have before and Hughes had got the team playing attractive football. With likes of Bellamy, Carlos Tevez and Shaun Wright-Phillips breaking from midfield at extreme velocity feeding Emmanuel Adeabyor upfront, City were a force to be reckoned with. There were suggestions that a number of first team players were unhappy with Hughes’ sacking and that they voiced their complaints afterwards and I for one would not be surprised if Bellamy was in that minority. The good relationship between Bellamy and Hughes is something which shows the beauty of football. So many times we have seen a good on field relationship continue when a player turns to management and this one of them.
Bellamy has exploited his searing pace whilst occasionally playing on the wing this season. His centre forward instincts are an advantage as well as he is rarely caught offside and times his runs to perfection. The dynamic, beautifully weighted passes from Tevez and the shrewd, clever movement from Bellamy had been very productive for Hughes and City this season. Hughes’ side were always potent going forward but of course they were dreadful at the back. For us neutrals however, this means a wealth of goal-mouth action. City have had two 4-2s, two 3-3s and one 4-3 this season. The sky blues have conceded a shocking 9 goals in their last 3 games which is an ominous statistic and makes Hughes’ sacking seem justified. However, City have beaten Arsenal twice this season and are still well in contention for the Champions’ League places, more so than last season anyway. Hughes has a right to feel a little hard done by and had a hard job seeing as he cut his teeth managing at Blackburn, a club with wildly different aspirations to City.
Despite his hoards of technical ability, Bellamy’s negative side is his erratic personality. His former Newcastle manager Bobby Robson described him as “a volatile character.” This season alone the 30 year old has been given a second yellow card and a red for diving, has shoved a camera in the boisterous, yet short-lived elation in the Manchester derby and raised a hand to a Manchester United fan on the pitch after the match. The former West Ham striker is almost unplayable when on form it will be interesting to see how he gels with his new manager Roberto Mancini. Mancini won Serie A three times in a row with Inter Milan in Italy in a defensive league, but he has more experience of managing big players than Hughes, so maybe the supposed love hate relationship Robinho has with City will improve. Mancini has a huge weight on his shoulders from the off and Bellamy will be key to any success the Mancunians have this season.