92 clubs favourite players – Cardiff City – Craig Bellamy

Cardiff City are playing in the Premier League for the first time and they have a few players that I do like and hope perform well but the man that I like the most at their club is Craig Bellamy.

He definitely splits opinion as a lot of people hate him because of the way he conducts himself on the pitch, always arguing with officials and usually having something to complain about. At times I feel this has slightly worked against him as he does have a bad reputation but when he is fully focused and has the ball at his feet even now defenders are worried and he will play a big part in whether Cardiff can stay up. Manager Malky Mackay has already commented that this may be his last as a player and I can see this being the case especially if they do stay up as he will have achieved what he always wanted to.
Bellamy
Unfortunately I do not think he has enough time to get to 100 Premier League goals in his career and this is down to the fact that he did something that not a lot of top players would do and that is dropping down a division to play for the club he supports. But he does still have 79 goals and that is a decent return for someone that has never been prolific, he has only ever it double figures in the Premier League on two occasions (once for Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City). But it is interesting to note that he may have actually became a better goal scorer when he modified his position and starting playing out on the left wing rather than the main striker. He was harshly treated at Man City in my opinion because he was one of their better players when he was on the pitch and then followed this up with an impressive second spell at Liverpool where he scored 9 goals in 33 games.

One of the few things missing from his career is trophies because he has played for big teams when they were competing and he only has a Scottish Cup with Celtic and the League Cup with Liverpool, he probably could have won something at Newcastle United but he should be remembered fondly by them while he was on the pitch because he scored some crucial goals for them, including some goals in the Champions League and that is a position their fans can only wish to be in again.

Bellamy will also be disappointed with his international career because Wales have never came close to qualifying and now that they are finally producing players that will give them the opportunity he is coming to the end of his career.

He is ending his career in the right way and winning the Championship last season will have been one of the best moments even though he only contributed four goals he was still a major asset and now in the Premier League I am sure teams would rather not see his name on the team sheet as on his day he will give players the run around.

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Cardiff City are promoted to the Premier League

Cardiff City have been promoted to the Premier League as champions under the guidance of manager Malky Mackay.
Malky Mackay
It will be the first time the Welsh club have played in the Premier League and it will also be a great moment for their manager as he gained three promotions in a row towards the end of his career but was released each time. So he will be hoping he does keep his job in the summer but that surely will happen after such a fantastic year. At the start of the season there was a lot of controversy around the club with them changing the strip colour and a few other changes but when it actually came down to what was happening on the pitch, they have been by far the best team in the division and deserve to be champions in my opinion. Cardiff do still have two games to play and there should be a brilliant atmosphere at home to Bolton Wanderers when they collect the trophy. They will be the second Welsh team in the Premier League and their rivalry with Swansea City will be more high profile than ever and just shows that football may slowly be catching up to rugby in Wales these days as the main sport.

Looking at the team though, it may be surprising to see that their top scorer only has nine goals. Heidar Helguson is the man that has got these goals and at the start of the season I backed him to be one of the top goal scorers in the league, it hasn’t quite turned out that way but he has certainly done a lot to help the club get promoted. Along with Craig Bellamy who must be the happiest player at the club as he gets to play Premier League football for his boyhood club.
Craig Bellamy
Cardiff do have some good players in the midfield but the two that stick out for me are Peter Whittingham and Aron Gunnarsson. Whittingham has been one of those players that has looked too good for the Championship over the years but no Premier League club has been willing to take a chance on him yet, so finally the former Aston Villa player can show his talents in the top division. Gunnarsson is a very good player too and his eight league goals is quite impressive, add to this his brilliant long throw the Iceland international will be crucial to the side if they are to have a any chance of staying up.

Defensively I do not think they are great and will certainly need to bring players in during the summer but they do have a good full back in Andrew Taylor, who is decent going forward and also looks solid enough when defending. Ben Turner is another with some potential but it could be very tough for him next season playing against strikers that have better movement and only need half a chance to score.
Andrew Taylor
It will be very tough for Cardiff next season but everyone was saying that about Swansea and they have so far never been in danger of relegation.

Who will be the next Norwich City manager?

It looks as though Norwich City will be looking for a new manager with Paul Lambert wanting to leave the club.

Norwich City finished 12th with 47 points

The expected departure of Lambert means that not one of the three managers that had gained promotion to the Premier League will be in charge of their teams even though they all stayed up. Neil Warnock was sacked by QPR earlier in the season, Brendan Rodgers left Swansea City for Liverpool and now it looks as though Lambert will join Aston Villa. It has been one of the worst summers for the Norwich fans as they also have to deal with their main goal threat Grant Holt wanting to leave the club so it seems that something may be going on behind the scenes that not many people know about. The chairman needs to make sure that he appoints the right man next as they will need to continue their development and stay in the Premier League next year or they may find themselves struggling back in League 1 in a few years. I personally hope this doesn’t happen as the Canaries are very well supported and their fans are some of the most passionate fans in the Premier League and have stuck with them through thick and thin.

But now onto who could take charge. It seems current Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay is in pole position and it is not difficult to see why. He had a fantastic first season at Cardiff, guiding them to the playoffs where they were beaten by West Ham United and also the final of the League Cup. This was a very good achievement as he had to deal with a lot of departures and basically make a whole new team with very little money. He is a manager that works well with what he has got and does very well signing players on a free or for small transfer fees which would obviously be a good thing for Norwich as they aren’t the richest and want to develop in young British talent as much as possible.

Unsurprisingly, Chris Hughton is also linked with the job and I think he would be perfect for most sides in the Premier League so if Norwich could get him then I believe they would stay up comfortably next season. Hughton was harshly sacked by Newcastle United and has also done a brilliant job at Birmingham City where he almost got them promoted even though he had to deal with a small squad and a lot of games, including the Europa League. He is a manager that gets players playing with a smile on their faces and is a very open and honest manager so the fans would take to him.

Neil Lennon is also linked with the job and I think they could tempt him to join the club as in all honesty the Scottish Premier League will be even more boring for the next couple of years because of Rangers’ financial problems. So he may want to move so he can actually get challenged. He has a 75.22% win record and has only lost 16 of his 113 games but then again he has only managed Celtic, however in his defence you can only beat what is put up against you. I don’t know how good of a manager Lennon is but winning trophies gives you confidence and he could be a success at Norwich.

I would love to see Chris Hughton get the job as he always seems to deliver at whatever club he is at and I just think he deserves another chance in the Premier League.

Who will win the Championship playoffs?

It is that time of the year again and the unpredictability is bound to cause a lot of excitement for the neutrals but for West Ham, Birmingham City, Blackpool and Cardiff City fans it is one of the most nerve wracking times of the season.

So who is going to come out on top? West Ham will playing Cardiff at home in the second leg so does that give them an advantage over their Welsh rivals or does it not matter like in the Champions League this season where both away teams in the second leg went through. Will Blackpool’s attacking and sometimes gung ho tactics work against a hard working Birmingham side or will Chris Hughton secure a second promotion to the Premier League?

First of all, let’s start with West Ham as they finished third and were in contention of an automatic spot right up until the final day but ultimately lost out to Southampton. This can sometimes knock your confidence and the players may feel quite disappointed with their season as they were favourites to return to the top flight. But in there squad they have enough experience to steer them to Wembley and into the promised land once again. Their key player will be Kevin Nolan who is a fantastic player and in my opinion has been unlucky not to receive an England cap in his career. He can grab a goal from midfield and always seems to score important goals when he is needed, he may not have done as well as the last time he was in the Championship but he still needs to be watched and 12 goals this season has been quite a good return.

Birmingham City have had such a long season and there is a worry that they might burn out as they have played in the Europa League and took Chelsea to a replay in the FA Cup. But  don’t see this as a problem as they just keep getting better and better. With manager Chris Hughton in charge you know the camp will be in high spirits and everyone will be enjoying themselves. But maybe the speculation that West Brom are interested in Hughton might just put the players off slightly and they might lose focus but I honestly don’t think this will happen. The key player in my opinion will be Curtis Davies who has had a fantastic season and will want to play Premier League football next season. He has been a rock at the back for the club and has been crucial in their good form all season, he knows he will have to be at his best to keep out the opposition in the next few games.

Blackpool are also looking for an instant return to the Premier League under the always entertaining Ian Holloway. The way the team play their football is fantastic to watch and his players are very brave to keep playing the way they do which may give them the advantage in the playoffs and the fact they have won the playoffs with a very similar team only two years ago will also help their cause. Key player to watch for me is Kevin Phillips, he has scored 17 goals this season and is looking as threatening as ever, he may not be able to start both legs because of his age but when he is on the pitch his movement will worry defenders and like Nolan always has an important goal in him. With him on the pitch I think defenders know they need to mark him which gives more space for wingers Matt Phillips and Thomas Ince who on their day can take apart any defence in the Championship.

Cardiff City have possibly been one of the most unlucky teams in the playoffs with them losing in them time and time again. What has made it worse is that Swansea City are in the Premier League and are doing well. But manager Malky Mackay has brought together a new squad this year who look hungry and determined to get to the Premier League. The goals haven’t quite flowed as much this season as they have done previously but all that matters is that they are in the playoffs once again. Key player will be Peter Whittingham as he has really quality from midfield whether he plays out wide or in the middle and has contributed 13 goals this season as well as many assists. If he is on form it will be difficult for their opponents to stop him and he can change a game in the blink of an eye.

So now it is prediction time, I believe that the final will be between Cardiff and Birmingham with Birmingham winning the final. I just think that West Ham may crumble under the pressure and the expectations and Blackpool will be unable to break down the Birmingham defence often enough. In the final I think it will be a case of déjà vu for Cardiff and they will sadly underperform on the big stage.

Do you agree with my key players and my predictions?