Monday, 19 January 2009

More on Bellamy

I'm not very enthusiastic about the signing of Bellamy - although I am pleased we have a new centre forward. But having read the criticisms of Bellamy from some City fans there are two points I want to make.

You often hear the complaint: 'He has caused trouble at every team he's ever played for.' This is almost true, but not quite. It is true that he has a track record of poor behaviour : particularly for incidents at Newcastle, Liverpool and now West Ham. He is clearly a volatile individual, and most probably an unpleasant one. But his record for Blackburn Rovers and for Wales - on and off the pitch - is much better. A better statement than that above would be: 'He has caused trouble at most teams he's played for, but at none managed by Mark Hughes and Mark Bowen'.

His 17 goals in 2005/06 (13 in the league) for Blackburn Rovers is comfortably his best ever season in English top flight football. Similarly his record for Wales - under Hughes and Bowen - is more consistent than at club level. He clearly has a good relationship with them, and said quite clearly today that this influenced his move:
"It (Hughes and his coaching team) was a big factor, because they are people that I have worked with since I was 18...They know me better than anybody-else in the football game, and they are people I completely trust in....They have progressed me massively, and I owe them a lot"
City fans were happy for us to take a gamble on Roque Santa Cruz : a striker whose one successful season to date was under Mark Hughes - on the basis that Hughes could bring out the same form again at City. Why not show the same faith in Hughes and Bowen to extract the best from Bellamy?

The other criticism made of the Bellamy signing is the 'I hate him because he is an arsehole' complaint. This frustrates me as people who make it don't seem to understand how contingent that is. You don't hate him because he is an arsehole: you hate him because he is an arsehole who happens to play for a different team. If you employed that standard consistently then you would have had to hate Joey Barton ever since the Jamie Tandy cigar moment, or the Bangkok bar fight at the least. You certainly would have had to hate Thaksin Shinawatra before he started to doubt Eriksson. But I imagine most City fans fulfilled neither of these criteria. And understandably so - football fan tribalism tends to trump moral judgements nine times out of ten. I just wish some City fans would be a bit more honest about this. He will receive a good reception against Newcastle next Wednesday - and in a sense, rightly so - arsehole or not.

The one criticism worth dealing with is that he is not a particularly good centre forward. Maybe so: we'll find out quite soon. But anything that makes Darius Vassell, Benjani and Jô drop down the pecking order is a good buy. He's no Nicolas Anelka, but if he could at least be Emile Mpenza or Rolando Bianchi quality then we've improved.

1 comment:

pjdemers said...

Once again, thoughtful and sensible comments JPB. Personally I have some reservations about Bellamy but Sparky has a proven track record with him and even more encouraging he seems to truly want to be at City, at least according to quotes on the MCFC website. Yes he's not the ideal striker we'd like given our resources but lets give the man a chance before we write him off. I have a suspicious feeling if he stays healthy he might actually deliver. He's certainly more than marginally better than Vassel with more than the same work rate.