When Craig Bellamy was snapped up for free on the final day of the summer transfer window, it was expected that he would be no more than a squad player to provide more options up front. Although it is no surprise that the talented Welshman has made such a huge impact so far, not many can claim to have predicted that the free signing from Manchester City would become one of the very best performers of the season.
Bellamy’s impact this season has been so great that he has rightfully earned the reputation as one of Liverpool’s most potent players, and in a campaign where wastefulness in front of goal has been our main problem, the former Man City man has made himself undroppable.
Bellamy actually turns 33 this summer but yet shows no sign of his age catching up with him especially when you consider that he still remains one of the fastest players in the league. His pace, game intelligence and reliability in front of goal have helped the reds cope with the loss of the influential Luis Suarez, and with Gerrard supporting him I can see him continuing to cause major damage to teams this year.
My expectations for Craig Bellamy have risen to new levels and it saddens me to think that he’s approaching the final few years of his great footballing career. One thing which is certain is that the Craig Bellamy who wears the number 39 shirt for Liverpool now is not the same player from the 06/07 season when he was sold after one year. The Craig Bellamy from the Rafa Benitez era displayed his talent on occasions but was not the most consistent player around and seemed to suffer from a lack of confidence at times.
Since then Bellamy has gone on to prove himself as one of the best forwards in the Premier League, with the 09/10 season being a major indication that he could perform when it mattered on the big stage. I realise that Bellamy has already received countless plaudits for his exceptional performance against Man City in the Carling Cup semi final, but I have to say that it was arguably the best big game performance by a reds forward this season.
As we’ve seen on many occasions, pace in attack can sometimes mean the difference between failure and success on the field and with Liverpool generally having a collection of players who aren’t the quickest around, the importance of Bellamy’s blistering speed cannot be underestimated. Only time will tell if Kenny Dalglish feels the need to sign a striker during the January transfer window, but I believe that in Craig Bellamy, he has already unearthed the transfer masterstroke of the season.
Live4Liverpool is recruiting columnists. For further info contact the site editor at firstname.lastname@example.org