Events at Manchester City over the last few weeks have been nothing short of unpredictable. Newly installed manager Roberto Mancini appeared to be walking into the lion’s den last week, with half of the City squad supposedly livid at the nature of Mark Hughes’ departure, yet after two games and six points; harmony appears to have been reinstalled at Eastlands.
Striker Craig Bellamy was one of the names who had been allegedly unhappy with events prior to Christmas. The former West Ham and Liverpool man was known to have a good relationship with Hughes and was one of the many City players who were visibly unhappy after the Welshman’s departure. Rumours of a Bellamy-led rebellion had circulated and were strengthened after his omission from the starting line-up for the Boxing Day fixture against Stoke, yet Mancini firmly denied that there was any kind of rift. Mancini said:
“Bellamy is my friend. There is no problem. I spoke with him two days ago. We have two games in three days and I need all the players at 100%. He understood when I told him he wasn’t starting. Today we played Robinho. It is possible we will play Craig at Wolves on Monday.”
Despite defeating Tony Pulis’ men 2-0, it was the introduction of Bellamy on the 70th minute mark that marked the highlight at Eastlands on Saturday. The Welshman replaced the continuously disappointing Robinho, receiving a rapturous reception from the City faithful.
Bellamy has arguably been the surprise package of the Manchester City revolution since his £14 million switch last January. The striker has seen his population amongst football fans rise since his move to Eastlands, having gained a lot of fans and plaudits alike through his energetic, hard-working performances. Bellamy has epitomized the key to success within Manchester City. A club that boasts such talents as Robinho, Carlos Tevez and Martin Petrov will predominantly look to execute attractive football; however Bellamy has not only done this, but also added a cutting edge through his work-rate and stamina.
It appears as though the situation may have already begun to resolve itself after the Welshman both started and gave a match-winning performance in yesterday’s 3-0 victory over Mick McCarthy’s Wolves. Bellamy was scintillating, combining with the ever impressive Tevez to tear apart the struggling Wanderers. It was a fluid, yet mature performance from Mancini’s side, with Bellamy joining the list of Tevez and Petrov for the Man of the Match candidates
Mancini must do his utmost to retain Bellamy and keep the Welshman a key part of the Eastlands set up. The former Inter Milan manager has experienced a 100% start to his City career however, must still win over a majority of the fans and if one is judged by the company he keeps, then Mancini would do well to stick by his Welsh striker given Bellamy’s popularity.
We may never find out whether or not Bellamy’s rest during the Stoke game was due to a rift or whether it was a genuine managerial decision, but either way it appears to have paid off. Despite an impressive performance yesterday, City seemed tired and lethargic in the early sparring and it was Bellamy whose tireless efforts and energy sparked the Manchester side into life. Squad rotation plays an important role for any club looking to gain success in the division, and with City reaching for the stars; it is certainly a tactic that will regularly be employed. However, I believe that Mancini needs to keep his key men close to him and Bellamy has surprisingly become one of the jewels in the City crown; he should be utilised as often as possible.