Some fans will say Wales international Craig Bellamy got what he deserved. After a career marred by bust-ups, controversy and arguments, the 31-year-old finally met his match in Manchester City’s suave Italian boss Roberto Mancini. A coach who refused to tolerate his volatile and sometimes unreasonable behaviour and decided a firm-handed approach was his only option.
Bellamy was ordered to train with the reserves last Friday and subsequently told to stay away from the club until his future was decided. The forward even claimed the Italian had not spoken to him for over six months, something which the club strongly denied. So instead of leading the City line as they prepare to challenge for the title this season, Bellamy will instead be plying his trade in The Championship with Cardiff City.
Bellamy wanted to stay at Eastlands and felt he deserved another campaign with the mega-rich club as they prepare to challenge on all fronts this term. Given his form last season Bellamy certainly deserved the chance. It seemed however his relationship with Mancini was irreparable, with the goal-scorer failing to make an appearance for The Citizens during the club’s pre-season campaign. Bellamy’s nightmare was finally ended on Tuesday after securing a dream loan move to hometown club Cardiff, a lifelong ambition for the former Liverpool player. Even after his harsh marginalisation under Mancini at City, Bellamy refused to criticise his former club or manager.
“Man City have been brilliant [to me],” enthused Bellamy. “They have been exceptional and made this possible. I will be in debt to them forever. I am fine with him [Mancini]. I hope he does really well. There is no ill-feeling. He is a top manager and he’ll do very well there.”
Despite the fall-outs, City worked tirelessly to help Bellamy’s dream move become a reality once he had identified Cardiff as his preferred destination. The Bluebirds are £15m in debt and have survived four winding up orders over the last six months but were still able to complete the improbable move and one of the most astonishing deals of the summer. Bellamy knows he has City to thank. In truth Cardiff simply have not got the funds to pay Bellamy’s £95,000-a-week salary. City have been more than accommodating however and are reportedly stumping up £75,000 of his weekly wage. Not bad money considering Bellamy will be fulfilling one of his career ambitions when he steps out at the Cardiff City Stadium to face Doncaster on Saturday.
Bellamy has a reputation for being a disruptive influence in the dressing room and the fact he has played for six clubs in the last five years suggests managers eventually grow tired of his antics on and off the field. Golf clubs at Liverpool, refusing to play out of position at Newcastle and abusive text messages to Alan Shearer, the list could go on. At City however Bellamy was one of the club’s most consistent performers last year. The striker looked settled under Mark Hughes who had previously managed him at Blackburn Rovers and the Welsh national side. However the reunion was brief when Hughes was dismissed in December of that year, with Bellamy going on record to disclose his unhappiness with the decision. His relationship with Mancini was strained from the start and Bellamy was dropped to the bench for the Italian’s first game at the helm. Despite their differences Bellamy went onto produce some wonderful performances under Mancini last season, scoring 13 goals in the process.
The former Hammer first fell-out with Mancini over his training schedule and reportedly insulted the former Inter coach in the tunnel following a 2-0 defeat to Everton last season. By the time Mancini made it clear Bellamy was not part of his plans for the up coming season, leaving him out of the club’s Europa League squad, Bellamy was reportedly clashing with senior management on a daily basis. Despite one broadsheet newspaper claiming Bellamy has been ‘black-listed’ by the club, City still helped Bellamy negotiate a loan to Cardiff and help him be re-united with his family in Wales, despite his perceived lack of professionalism during his final days with the club. City could have easily cornered him into a move to Tottenham or Fulham, amongst others, who were lining up with bids for the striker or forced him to play with the reserves all season. Yet instead they bent over backwards to fulfil the player’s wishes.
Football is ruthless business and if a manager feels a player is not good enough for the club then they will be sold. With the league’s new 25-man squad rule it would have been difficult to give Bellamy game time along with other strikers Emmanuel Adebayor, Argentine Carlos Tevez and new signing Mario Balotelli. Although banning the player from the training ground was extreme, Bellamy obviously could not deal with being isolated by the manager and being frozen out at City. Despite his tantrums Bellamy got the move he wanted and with City still paying his wages the Welshman can only show his gratitude to the club.
As for Craig Bellamy’s future, the striker is still contracted to City; could we see him back at Eastlands one day?
Mancini concluded: “I don’t know if he will play for me again. In football anything can happen.”