Cardiff City Star Bellamy - Away Day Specialist ?
Cardiff City forward Craig Bellamy is undoubtedly one of the players to watch in the Championship this season, and has made a significant impact in his appearances for the Blubeirds this season. This has come amidst a unbalanced Cardiff side, and a persistent knee problem that has gradually alleviated over the past month.
With all the hype, Bellamy was always going to attract special attention from opposing crowds, and defenders. He has coped well with all that, even when virtually assaulted by a Scunthorpe United fan during a 4-2 victory.
However, Bellamy has failed to match his own exacting standards, and has vowed to contribute more. While his finishing has been a little under-par, it is not Bellamy's fault his impact has not reached his potential, especially in our home performances.
While City have largely done well at home, many of the points have been ground out, particularly wins over Hull City, Millwall and the stunning fightback against Bristol City. What has become evident is that teams choose to sit deep, pack midfield and know they will get a couple of chances at the other end i.e. Preston North End.
This defensive mentality, and Cardiff City's current style of play, would not seem tailored to unleash Bellamy at his most dangerous. While City as a team look their best when playing an open, fast tempo style - that has proved difficult due to a lack of space, and a static midfield. Olofinjana prefers to hold one position, while Whittingham, McPhail and co are often forced deep to collect possession.
Thus when Bellamy has played on the left, we find it difficult to get possession to him, and he finds himself tracked by a full-back, and a midfielder. When utilised in a more advanced striker role, we have struggled to find any space behind a deep lying defensive line and have lacked the tempo and guile to disrupt the opposition shape. This was exemplified on several occasions with McPhail trying several 'killer balls' inside the Preston centre-half, only to see the ball run out of play on every occasion.
When away from home, we have looked to break with pace, and attack teams who do not have 10 men behind the ball. Bellamy rounded off such a move against QPR, after Bothroyd robber Gorkss in midfield. Even more so, Bellamy ran Leeds United ragged (his best performance to date) with pace, dummies and trickery. With space to exploit, and up against an isolated defender - is when Bellamy is at his most potent.
This weekend sees Cardiff City travel to a resurgent Middlesbrough - looking to climb the table after a disastrous start to the campaign. They will be growing in confidnece and present an opportunity for the Bluebirds to utilise the blistering pace and counter-attacking ability of Bellamy, Burke and Chopra.