For a club that spent somewhere in the region of £75m on Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing, the signing of Craig Bellamy was an uncharacteristically frugal piece of business by Liverpool. Jose Enrique and Charlie Adam were acquired at a discount, due to their diminishing contracts, but Bellamy could be regarded as John Henry’s first real Moneyball signing.
Despite costing a combined £45m in transfer fees between Coventry City, Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool, West Ham and Manchester City, Bellamy retains a reputation as a trouble maker and all round bad egg. He’s certainly had his moments over the years, but he’s also a model professional who trains hard and demands high standards of those around him. Issues relating to a previous long term knee injury require strict attention and Bellamy has maintained great physical conditioning in order to prolong his playing career.
Brought in as cover for the left flank and up front, Bellamy was initially used sparingly, appearing from the bench in defeats against Stoke and Spurs before starting the 2-1 Carling Cup defeat of Brighton. Bellamy opened the scoring and had a hand in the second, also thundering a first half free kick against the cross bar from distance in an all round impressive display. He demonstrated an instinctive rapport with Luis Suarez and Dirk Kuyt, built on fluid movement while interchanging with pace, he has seamlessly integrated within Kenny Dalglish’s pass and move template and has since featured on a regular basis.
Issues relating to his knee have previously prevented Bellamy from playing more than once a week, as a result Bellamy often starts on the bench and rarely plays a full 90 minutes, although this has not restricted his impact. His first league goal arrived in the 1-1 draw with Norwich and he also starred in the 2-0 Carling Cup victory at Chelsea, setting up Maxi Rodriguez’s opener and delivering the set piece for the second. He scored one and assisted another in the 2-0 win at Aston Villa, before scoring twice against former club Newcastle in his most recent outing, inspiring a 3-1 victory.
In the summer, John Henry used Twitter outline Liverpool’s transfer philosophy, claiming; “Speculation on players shouldn’t include those of a certain age, we are not going to be successful by merely filling short-term needs at LFC.” Fortunately, he relaxed his ethos to accommodate Bellamy, who took a pay cut to facilitate the move. Director of football Damien Comolli has since claimed that the transfer was “a no-brainer” and where Bellamy was initially utilised in less significant fixtures, a series of impressive performances may result in him being saved for Liverpool’s more prestigious matched in future.
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