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Bellamy lands with Cardiff

PORTLAND OR - JULY 17:  Craig Bellamy #39 of Manchester City of battles Derek Gaudet #2 the Portland Timbers during a friendly match on July 17 2010 at Merlo Field in Portland Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
PORTLAND OR - JULY 17: Craig Bellamy #39 of Manchester City of battles Derek Gaudet #2 the Portland Timbers during a friendly match on July 17 2010 at Merlo Field in Portland Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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As first speculated on Sunday evening, Craig Bellamy has eschewed potential Premier League suitors to sign up with Championship side Cardiff City on a season long loan with a remit to get the side over the hump and into the Premier League.

You can certainly see the allure for Bellamy in playing for his hometown club and to be nearer to his family, yet for a player who has always appeared ambitious and often talked of playing in the Champions League (cited as the reason for joining City in the first place) it looks a strange decision, despite the challenge of getting Cardiff into the Premier League.

At thirty-one years of age and with a known injury history, Bellamy - despite stating how tough a decision it was to drop down a level - has likely waved goodbye to those hopes, although to make a move to a side in the Champions League he would have had to move abroad (which he did state he was not willing to do, rebuffing an approach from Wolfsburg aleady) as City were clearly not going to allow him to move to Tottenham.

 

During his unveiling, Bellamy was quick to praise City - in particular Khaldoon al-Mubarak and Garry Cook, calling them "great men", although he less effusive towards Roberto Mancini, saying "I hope he does well, he's a top manager."

In turn, Garry Cook spoke favourably of Bellamy:

“I am sure City fans have enjoyed seeing Craig play for City. He has been a great performer for us since joining in January 2009, and I would like to go on record as thanking him for his effort and determination to our cause.

“It is clear that it was right for Craig to make a move, and Manchester City has the utmost respect for the choice he has made.

“There was a lot of interest in Craig from a number of Premier League clubs, but he indicated that he didn’t want to settle for just another club, but wanted to go to help his hometown team and try to help them win promotion to the top flight.

“It was an admirable decision, and we wish him and Cardiff City all the very best for his new challenge.”

Bellamy was praised for his measured approach, but lest we forget he is still a City player so to burn bridges so immediately would be foolish, not to mention the fact that City are believed to be on the hook for 80% of his wages (he hasn't taken a cut to move to Cardiff). Although it looks certain that he will not return, should Roberto Mancini not achieve what is expected, a new manager may have a very different opinion to that of the Italian.

If indeed Bellamy has played his last game at the club, his influence shouldn't be underestimated - however brief his stay looks to be. His arrival at City and subsequent presence in the side was a huge one for Mark Hughes as he set about developing a new ethos and culture at the club.

 

This was no easy task in the wake of Sven-Goran Eriksson's time in charge and with personalities such as Elano and Robinho in the squad, Hughes had his work cut out. Hughes added players in his own mould such as Vincent Kompany, and in the January window in 2009 brought in Nigel de Jong, Shay Given and Bellamy.

Bellamy has always been a vocal player and was willing to demand and challenge his team-mates (his famous outburst at Robinho after an insipid showing at Portsmouth), but despite his form of last season meriting a place in the squad, if not necessarily the team, perhaps it is a case of job done in terms of his mindset.

With the departure of Hughes, Bellamy's effect lessened, no longer a confidante to the management. And with the development and growth of Kompany and de Jong, plus the acquisitions Mancini has made (notably Patrick Vieira) there is now a culture of expectation throughout the squad. Cajoling from Bellamy is no longer required in a squad of players ready to lead from the front.

There are also the whispers from behind the scenes that Bellamy is not known to be popular amongst the current set up, with the two alleged incidents in the wake of the Everton and Tottenham games not reflecting well.

Perhaps then it was meant to be this way. Like at so many of his clubs, his stay was a brief one and ends under somewhat of a cloud. But thinking back to his departure at West Ham, Liverpool and Newcastle for instance I don't remember him making the level of impact he made at City.

Mark Hughes came in for criticism (me included) when he brought Bellamy to the club, but it was a decision that proved many people wrong and in an era that is defining the clubs future, Bellamy will be looked upon as having a big influence on the transformation at Manchester City.