It’s a good week for Welsh football, as not only has one of the greatest ever Welsh players produced become manager of Sheffield United, but a Welsh striker of top Premier League quality has joined the Bluebirds. Gary Speed is expected to be named manager of Yorkshire outfit Sheffield United and Craig Bellamy will make a dream move to play for Cardiff City on a season long loan. The move to management for Speed was something I always felt was coming and it is great to see one of the most likeable people in the game get a start at a good club like the Blades. The move for Bellamy is one that will surprise many however, as last season Bellamy was putting Premier League defences to the sword and considering Cardiff’s uncertain financial situation it is a massive coup for the club who will feel that if Bellamy stays fit then they could finally become the first Welsh side to play in England’s top flight.
A first chance in management for Speed who recently received an MBE earlier in the year and his first shot at taking the reins could be rather tricky. Although a decent opening day draw at Cardiff, where the Blades went down to ten men, Hartlepool and QPR found it easier in against United in the league cup and Championship respectively. A 3-0 home defeat against QPR and former manager Neil Warnock and it appeared to be the final straw in the relationship between Kevin Blackwell and the Blades board. To me, it seemed quite bizarre to make this decision with only two games into the season. Many fans were apparently calling for Blackwell to be removed from his position after seeing their side humbled by Rangers and it appears that the board members heard those cries. I think Speed has all the makings to be a great manager, but it is important that he is put alongside and assistant who is experienced. Sheffield United have brought in a few decent signings, but due to a few financial constraints, itis difficult to expect them to really push on for a playoff berth this season and it is probably more expectant the he has a decent first season in charge of the Blades that they can then build off. As a fan of Gary Speed I wish him all the best and hope he finds success in his first managerial job.
The other piece of big Welsh news this week is of course that Craig Bellamy has now signed for Cardiff. This for me (and probably everyone else) is signing of the summer for any Championship side. Man City’s reluctance to give Bellamy to one of their Premier League rivals has seen the player fulfil a dream of his by finally getting to play for his hometown club. Last season, Bellamy looked like an important part of the Man City attack and if he stays fit he will terrify every defence in England’s second tier. It’s a sensational transfer and I bet there are a lot more people throwing money on Cardiff to gain promotion now. Bellamy could start in the game against Doncaster Rovers this weekend and will have a chance to get the first team football he has been craving. It’s unlikely that Cardiff are funding his entire wages and this may well be a case of Man City being unwilling to strengthen fellow Premier League sides, as Bellamy is still a quality player that can play at the top level. If he stays fit, few will doubt that Craig Bellamy will have a great season in the Championship and could give Cardiff that little extra push to help them finally achieve promotion. In any case, Dave Jones must be doing cartwheels around the streets of Cardiff right now.