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If Craig Bellamy keeps his nose clean, West Ham will love him


Colin Illingworth

Colin is a sub-editor on a regional newspaper and is a die-hard Aberdeen fan. He's prepared to sell his soul to the Devil for the Dons to return to their former glory so Satan, if you're reading this, give him a call!...
[full biography]
14/07/2007 12:00:00.
read: 1818 times.

Craig Bellamy is never going to win any popularity contests but at 28 years old he wants to win trophies and believes that West Ham United and Alan Curbishley have the ambition to fulfil his dream. The Welsh international has played for seven clubs in as many seasons and has been a controversial figure on and off the field. He’s fallen out with team-mates, managers and coaches and has never endeared himself to the opposition. Considering the amount of money that Curbishley has at his disposal many Hammers were hoping to see a really huge name arrive at Upton Park, but most seem to believe that the fiery forward will be a success in the East End.

Richard Dicken, 34, think Bellamy is a good signing and is particularly excited about the skills he will bring to the club and his potential partnership with Dean Ashton.

“I think that Bellamy will bring pace and a high work rate to the forward line. He has pace to spare and can operate on the wing if required on occasion. He is not what you would call prolific but will probably get 12-15 goals.

“The most exciting thing is the partnership with Ashton. The classic big one, small quick one. It could be a very successful partnership in theory. We still have Zamora too, who also played that target man role towards the end last season with Tevez the quick small one. I remember Bellamy and Shearer teaming up well at Newcastle and see Ashton as the closest thing to Shearer in the Premiership at the moment. On paper the partnership could be ideal and I know that other Hammers fans feel the same.”

And he’s right. Matthew Beeby, 28, also points to Bellamy’s partnership with Shearer at Newcastle and he believes that Bellamy will become a fans’ favourite due to his boundless energy.

”Hopefully he'll bring a bit of bite to our forward line. Apart from Tevez last season, we were lacking strikers who would run themselves into the ground. Harewood and Zamora can be infuriating to watch as they frequently go missing for long periods of play, particularly if they aren't seeing the ball. It’s hard to imagine Bellamy wondering aimlessly around, just hoping the ball might come to him.

“I hope he becomes the kind of player that home fans love and opposition fans hate, like Robbie Savage or Cristiano Ronaldo. If the opposition hate you, then you must be doing something right. I think he'll bring the kind of attitude that will endear him to the Upton Park crowd, especially if he gets a few goals early on.”

However, both Richard and Matthew concede that they are a bit gutted about not securing a really big name signing, but fully understand the reasons why.

“Of course it is disappointing that some of the big name targets we were looking at have failed to materialise, though I think a reality check was in order,” said Richard, who doesn’t believe that Alan Curbishley and West Ham have been given enough praise following their Great Escape. “We did only just stay up last season and were a Championship side three seasons ago. Curbs is right to strengthen the squad and I think he is trying to give it more steel and experience by bringing in players like Parker, Bellamy, Upson, Neill, Boa Morte.

“We still have to convince the big name players that we are going places and I think it is important to get a top half finish this season to show progress. I think the fans are excited that we have a chairman who is convinced of the club’s potential and is willing to back it with spending power never seen before at the club. I do think he maybe trying to run before he can walk though, but his enthusiasm is infectious (record season ticket sales). I do fear we will lack the invention and flair that the likes of Tevez and Benayoun (soon to go) bring to the side. So if Curbs does splash out it would good to see it spent on a flare player.”

However Matthew Beeby would have loved to of seen Curbishley put in a “cheeky bid” for Michael Owen or Saviola.

Some people attributed West Ham’s problems last season to indiscipline in the dressing room and with Bellamy’s past record you can understand why some fans are a bit dubious about his signing. Even Matthew and Richard have their concerns.

”Our problems last season stemmed from dressing room unrest, so it's obviously a worry that it's going to happen again when you add someone as volatile as Bellamy to the mix,” said Matthew. “But he's apparently good friends with Gabbidon and Collins from being their international captain, so hopefully he'll fit in ok. If not, I'm sure big Lucas Neill will sort him out”

“It is a worry and he is definitely the type of player everyone loves to hate,”
said Richard. “Hopefully Curbs will control him and we will now see a more mature player, though I would suggest seating Bowyer on another table at the Christmas party!”

It is looking increasingly likely that West Ham are going to start the new season without their saviour Carlos Tevez. The Argentine ace played a heroic part in the Hammers’ relegation battle and already has his place in West Ham folklore, but he looks destined to leave with Old Trafford seemingly being his preferred destination. So can Bellamy fill his boots and have the same sort of rapport with the Upton Park faithful?

“Bellamy and Tevez are similar players but obviously Tevez is a bit special and is already a legend at Upton Park. He will be sorely missed. It remains to be seen if Bellamy can reach those heights. I believe he will be a fans’ favourite due to his tenacious attitude and hard work. He is a good team player and will hassle defenders, which always goes down well. Tevez is a good example because he became a firm favourite before he scored his long awaited first goal. His hard work and passion won over the fans long before the goals came. In fact he was ridiculed in the press for his lack of goals and neither Pards nor Curbs were convinced. The fans kept chanting his name and the rest is history.”

And Matthew believes that Bellamy has the potential to become a bigger name than Tevez.

“Obviously he can’t replace the skill that Tevez brought to the team, but with a good attitude and some important goals he could make himself a bigger part of the history of West Ham than Tevez – on the playing side at least.”

Alan Curbishley paid Liverpool £7.5 million for Bellamy, which is a good bit of business in the current climate, especially when you consider that Tottenham have spent £16 million on Darren Bent who isn’t even an England regular. Bellamy has Champions League and international experience to his name and could play a vital role in guiding the Hammers up the table. Whether he can stay out of trouble though remains to be seen, but Curbishley believes it’s a risk worth taking and after guiding the Irons to safety last season who can argue with him?

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