Saturday, 14 July 2007

Will It Ever Work Out For Bellamy?

Craig Bellamy is turning over yet another new leaf at West Ham, but the whole thing smacks of deja-vu.
By Barney Ronay

There was more than a whiff of déjà vu all over again about Craig Bellamy's move to West Ham. What was it, exactly, that struck such a familiar note? Holed up behind my smoky slatted blinds, fiddling with my green plastic sun visor and occasionally saying things like "I need facts dammit", I spent 72 hours doing the necessary research. And I'm afraid, Craig, sooner or later someone was going to notice.

It turns out three very specific things happen when Bellamy signs for a new club. First he announces that when so-and-so comes knocking on your door it's a dream come true and you just can't say no. "I could never turn Liverpool down," he said in 2006. Two years earlier he told us that, "when a club like Celtic comes for you, it's a massive thing". Previously he'd been convinced "Newcastle are a big club and this was an opportunity too good to miss".

Secondly his new employers make encouraging noises about Craig being a bit, you know, uppity, but don't worry; that's actually a good thing. "Craig Bellamy has a desire to win, it's in his make-up," Mark Hughes said, crossing all his fingers and toes, after signing him for Blackburn; and Steven Gerrard welcomed him to Anfield with the frankly underwhelming "it doesn't do any harm to have a player with what you might call a bit of a nasty streak".

Thirdly Craig makes a bold prediction about what's going to happen next. He is, of course, always wrong. "I want to bring the Premiership to Anfield," he tub-thumped last summer. "Anyone can get the fourth Champions League spot - including Blackburn," he dared to dream in 2005, before which it was "I want to win the league, not just for Celtic but for myself" (they didn't).

Sure enough all three resurfaced this week. "Craig's got some anger and that's not always a bad thing," Alan Curbishley warbled, ticking the I-can-change-him-this-time-he-really-loves-me box, about the same time Bellamy was busy striking his dream move note ("everything is perfect for me") and predicting European glory for the Hammers.

What does it all mean? Certainly Bellamy starts to come across a bit like a character in a Motown song; the kind of sharp-suited, sweet-talking, heavily tattooed no-goodnik who's always dropping in with his battered suitcase and silk hat, promising you a sixth-place Premiership finish, and then disappearing on the first train to the next massive opportunity at a club you just can't say no to.

At the same time signing him begins to look like a triumph of hope and faith in the face of failure, what Philip Larkin called "a joyous shot at how things ought to be", only with much more swearing and fighting.

He always sounds so convincing, you see. And he's obviously very talented. It's just in a way that involves never really scoring many goals but gradually working your way into a situation where you've got the chairman in a headlock and you're sending abusive text messages to the kit lady with your free hand while being chased across the car park by a delegation of enraged senior players.

Maybe things will work out this time. It's tempting to hope they do. And if not, the next time Bellamy moves on he could try to harness his anti-talent for talking up the future. Maybe he could say something like "Wigan is just where I've washed up. I'll score four goals and we'll finish 17th", while his manager admits, "yeah, Craig's totally nuts - it's a disaster really".

In which case, expect him to end up winning the golden shoe, beating Graeme Souness in an arm wrestle and, in a perfect world, not putting us through any of this again any time soon.


Earlybird said...

As a Liverpool fan, I can't say I feel bad about the "Craig Bellamy era" at the club. Hey, he had the hilarious, and ultimately harmless, "golf club attack" and then he went out and provided just enough spice to beat Barcelona in the Nou Camp. Plus, Liverpool made £1.5 million out of moving him through the club for a year.

Also, I didn't think he did all that poorly at Blackburn when he was there.

Eh, he's not really likable in any way, but why does anybody have to like a footballer for the person he is? I'm a supporter, not someone looking for entertaining dinner conversation.

Henot said...

A player who takes a golf club to a team-mate is always going to be a liability, and I don't think this can be considered "harmless".

He's overrated and bad news for any club (excuse the pun), so look forward to him making the wrong runs for the Hammers next season and then giving that annoying shrug to his pissed off team-mates.

Ochocinco said...

Bellamy is the archetype of the knuckleheaded thug who can knock back a few pints and the start a fight in an empty room. He always looked like he might be more than just the muscular partner for Alan Shearer and Lurchy Crouch; that, somehow, he might harness that hard-man energy and become a free-scoring equal to Wazza. Still, anyone who can't get along with Bobby Robson has to be a tosser from the get-go. But, if you're thick and resent having to set the table for Shearer, or Sutton, or Kuyt, then, eventually, you're going to have a go at the coach. I'm actually amazed at the egomania exhibited by Messrs. Hughes, Strachan, Souness, Benitez and now Curbishley in believing they could control him, keep him happy and make him productive. Kudos to Benitez for recognizing his error and cutting bait now before Craig took offense at the presence of the new Spanish-speaking tattooed blondie striker and attacked him in the dressing room with a chainsaw.

Ewoody said...

When Rovers signed Bellamy I greeted the news with shrug of the shoulders and was not especially impressed. Over the season his natural ability, goals and entertainment value changed this view. He never let us down, scored some great goals and once or twice single-handedly won games for us.

I can't help but feel Bellamy's mistake was to leave Ewood, he was the star, the big fish in the relatively small pond, whereas at Liverpool he was simply a squad player. West Ham are this season's disaster waiting to happen and I can't see Bellamy coping with that.

He may have personal issues surrounding him but in his short time at Ewood Park he seemed to behave himself.

The shadow said...

He isn't actually much of a player. Moving him on is good business and shows that the fat waiter does have some nous. But why all the handwringing and use of the word "thug"? I don't remember Bellamy stamping on to many people in Leeds city centre. Keep it in perspective.

chubster said...

Shadow - no Bellamy restricts his activities to hitting women in Cardiff. Though I'm sure that he will end up at Leeds one day since he would be following in a line of one scumbag in going there, that's if you exclude Jody Morris and Dennis Wise, neither of whom have actually been convicted of anything related to their time at Leeds.

Belllamy is he high priest of scumbag footballers. He is a talented player but his personality leaves a lot to be desired.

Dion said...

He was actually found not guilty by a court of law but never mind hey, why let the truth get in the way of trashing man's character? It amazes me how some people would rather believe gossip they read in the Sun or Mirror or hear down the pub rather than actually check the facts of the matter. You should read the post from a couple of days ago about Bellamy on this blog. It will enlighten you.

Addickted said...

Bellamy's signature and sale was good business by Benitez, undoubtedly he picked up a damaged goods player for less than he was worth (ditto with Pennant), got a good season out of him and then sold him on at a decent profit. The question is why he went from Ewood to Anfield so cheaply and that as we know is because of his reputation, on the pitch he shows he has the ability, but it's off the pitch that he creates the problems and so a succession of managers have shifted him on because they see the disruptive influence he has on the squad.

Perhaps he's in the wrong sport? Maybe something like golf would suit him better where he doesn't have to be held back by lesser players and having to play in a squad system.

At West Ham I wonder what will happen, in the absence of a Shearer or Kuyt, Crouch and the like, he'll be the player that the attack is built around, but I wonder whether his ego will allow him to play at a weak Premiership team. Curbs is an astute manager but he never suffers fools, Bellamy looks a strange character for him to have bought, at Charlton when players like Danny Murphy started to throw their weight around they found themselves frozen out before being transferred and I can see Bellamy going the same way. A succession of managers - Souness, Hughes, Benitez and others who are supposedly hard men couldn't control him, what makes Curbs think he will?

Stevo said...

Addickted whilst Bellamy was at Blackburn there was never a sniff of him causing trouble either onthe pitch or within the club. He also had his best goals return, in playing not that many matches and helped us qualify for Europe. Added to that the fact that he only left Liverpool for the price he did was due to his release clause and not his reputation and he left Balckburn not because he was forced out but because he wanted to go on to bigger and better things. So to say Hughes couldn't control him his in fact not quite true. That being said I'm not sure I'd have had him back at Ewood, all the players played with more freedom last season when not trying to tee up Bellamy all the time and this style of approach actually brought McCarthy more goals, although it looks like he too has decided that he's too big for little old Blackburn. The thing is Bellamy knew he wasn't going to play for Liverpool as much thanks to Torres arrival and went to where they would pay him £70 grand a week. I think this says more about the Premier League than it does about Bellamy. To be honest they sound like a match made in heaven andmy real concern is that it might just work!

Japman said...

Why doesn't he just skip the boring part of his career as a mediocre footballer and give in to his destiny - to have his name up in dingy spluttering neon lights over his very own club in swanky Swansea.

I can just see the flyer - Begb...Bellamy with a cheesy grin in the centre wearing a 'night fever' black and white suit, a wad of cash in one hand and a broken glass in the other...

swipe said...

Given that the Hammers already have a dressing room full of players with more chips on their shoulders than Harry Ramsdens, Bellamy is merely tinder to this fire-works factory. Foot-baller Death-Match, buy your popcorn and enjoy!

dreamer said...

he was a revelation during his time at rovers. I remember several stand out performances, especially one away at tottenham, where he ran spurs ragged. Ultimately we lost 3-2, but he really worked hard, which actually surprised me after all the bad press he had received whilst at newcastle. It might sound simplistic but perhaps the welsh connection with hughes helped to keep him on the straight and narrow. Additionally of his time with newcastle, the souness factor comes into it too. That guy managed to pick a fight with Dwight 'smiley' Yorke.

church mouse said...

Craig Bellamy is a spiky clever footballer. I remember him and A. Shearer totally destroy Schmeichel (in his AVilla days?) in an exhibition of predatory might. Whine all you like, this Welshman is a millionare several times over.


Copyright 2007 ID Media Inc, All Right Reserved. Crafted by Nurudin Jauhari