Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy said that it came as no surprise to hear venomous comments from Newcastle United after the clash midweek between the two sides. One-time Liverpool legend Terry McDermott, now a part of the Geordie’s coaching staff, was responsible for the attack, calling Bellamy “a little upstart” and adding: “Everywhere he has been he has been in bother and it is starting again at Liverpool.”
Bellamy says this was inevitable after the way he left Newcastle, and even more so now that he’s at a bigger club in Liverpool. He said: “There was always going to be something from Newcastle but it doesn't bother me, not at all. I was half expecting something because my being at Liverpool is hurting them.”
Bellamy was a Red as a child and suggested that him getting his lifelong dream might have added to Newcastle’s bitterness: “This is the club I have always wanted to play for and maybe there are people who are not too happy about that. I'm sure there are people there who don't want me to succeed here, because it reminds them every time.”
Bellamy left Newcastle after alleged rows behind the scenes with former manager Graeme Souness, rows that resulted in Newcastle having to accept a much-reduced fee for the player who Souness was refusing to use. Bellamy says that low transfer fee will be upsetting Newcastle all the more: “It was a ridiculously cheap fee I went to Blackburn for, it's not nice for me to be remembered for that. What was it, about £3.75m? That hurts. I know that but that is the game we play.”
It must hurt Newcastle all the more when they look at Bellamy playing an important role up front for the Reds, when the player they took out of Liverpool’s grasp is languishing on the sidelines injured for the second season running. Liverpool had been set to sign Michael Owen back from Real Madrid in August 2005 but Newcastle’s bid of around £17m was far more than Liverpool were prepared to pay for the player they’d sold a year before for slightly more than £8m. There’s some strange kind of obsession at Newcastle with LFC who seem to be always interested in signing players we are looking at, and who also seem to have taken on plenty of ex-Reds over the years. For managers they’ve had Keegan, Souness and Dalglish not to mention Terry McDermott and others on the coaching staff. John Barnes brought his playing days to a close at St James’ park too.
Bellamy’s playing an important role but isn’t scoring, and that’s upsetting him right now: “That's the way it is at the moment, the ball keeps going the other side of the post or hitting it. It happens, but I have had times like this in my career before. I am maybe too excited to score. You want to do so well and you are snatching at chances, and when you do that as a forward you find the chances slip away.”
Craig feels that being in the Red shirt is putting extra pressure on himself as he wants to do even better for his all-time favourites: “In some ways it is different for me. It's the club I supported and there is an extra determination to do well. I'm putting extra pressure on myself, but then I always do that, it is how I play football. I demand high standards of myself and I don't worry about missing chances.”
Last season Peter Crouch was the subject of much abuse from the press as he went a long time without scoring his first goal, and that kind of coverage doesn’t help strikers. Bellamy has scored his first goal for the club, a Champions League goal, but no league goals yet. He doesn’t want the pressure of getting off the mark in the league to get to him: “The one thing I don't like is when anxiety creeps in and it affects my game a bit. That's something I can't handle. Probably that is how it is at the moment. Okay, the people around me are scoring and I feel the rest of my game is going all right, making runs, helping create chances for others, but at a club like Liverpool you are judged on goals, and that is one thing you want to achieve.”
Bellamy is confident that given enough that he’ll get a league goal soon though, given the quality of those players that are paid to set up chances for him: “The chances will come at a club like this because there are such good players around who will create them. I am still enjoying it all.”
Liverpool supporters are still enjoying Bellamy’s presence in the side and despite attempts by various people connected in some way with Newcastle he’s showing no signs of being the troublemaker they’d so much like him to be for us.