In a week pounding with surreal happenings, mainly spewing out of Wapping, here is another slightly astonishing occurrence to ponder: Craig Bellamy does a lot of good work for charity, mate, and
he does like to talk about it.
Neil Lennon - a Celtic manager currently scurrying around
Australia with his team a fortnight before the onset of another rabid season in
Scotland - would apparently like nothing more than to return to Glasgow to discover the exiled Manchester City forward under lock and key as his marquee signing of
the summer. There is probably more chance of Rebekah Brooks winning the Nobel Prize for literature.
Lennon was always aware that such a transfer was
destined to founder on the Cape of Good Hope due to the player's skyscraping
wage demands. Bellamy's coinage apparently comes in at around £80,000 per week.
Nice work if you can get it, and all that jazz.
Bellamy's unwillingness to yield in time conveys perfectly
Lennon's preconceptions of a prospective transfer. The always debatable Welshman was asked whether or not he would
be willing to accept a pay cut to finish early his ill-fated stay at City, a
Premier League club where his only future is seeing out one more year of a
burgeoning contract funded by Abu Dhabi's petrodollars.
In the same way we discovered that the former Celtic striker Frank McAvennie had a penchant for hunting for sunken treasure, we learned in a broadsheet newspaper that the much-maligned Bellamy is a rather good egg, putting his vast earnings and spare time to good use.
"No chance (of taking a wage cut)..that is impossible. I have my own academy
where I have to take care of 13 children, day in, day out," said
Bellamy. "My wages are more
important to them, than they are for me."
Bellamy's academy is in Sierra Leone, a long way from the
nouveau riche of professional football in England. Nobody can really blame
Bellamy for refusing to budge while sitting on a weekly suitcase of the folding
stuff, but it remains odd why Celtic continue to covet such a figure when there
are so many obvious obstacles. This is a player who opted to join his native
Cardiff City on loan a year ago rather than return to play for Lennon, his old buddy at Celtic.
To win the Scottish Premier League, Celtic do not need to be
attempting to unearth such sums. Scottish football was carried to the brink of bankruptcy
by validating such foolhardy deals in the '90s and parts of the noughties.
There is no point in any club in Scotland stumping up such a grotesque level of
money to appease fans. There is no return on heaving pay packets from the
paltry returns on offer from television revenue in Scotland. Being a
spendthrift and creative at the same time is sure to lead to the palace of wisdom.
Bellamy continues to be singled out by Celtic because of the
six-month period he spent at the club in 2005. He was chased out of Newcastle
United for his own good due to some wretched disagreements with his manager
Graeme Souness and captain Alan Shearer. In reference to Bellamy, the then
assistant manager Terry McDermott was prompted to comment: "I've never
come across so much hatred and unrest over one person."
Bellars was picked up by Martin O'Neill, an opportunistic Celtic manager still
trying to cope with the loss of his totemic striker Henrik Larsson to
Barcelona. At the age of 31, Bellamy is not the same player he was six years
ago. He would be a risque signing, even if Celtic could part with £30,000 per
It may be a subconscious thing, but deep among the psyche of
Celtic thinkers, there is a longing to discover a player who could compare to
Larsson, the most productive character to represent Celtic since Kenny Dalglish
in the 1970s.
Larsson left Celtic Park in 2004 having declared on 242
goals in 315 games, but those days of wine and roses remain uppermost in the
minds of many. 'Seasonal Larsson disorder' afflicts most of the club's fans
around this time of the year when they emerge from the summer spending round realising that there is not a fresh face among the squad that is truly worth
the value of their season book, however harsh that may sound.
While Bellamy can be contagiously exciting on his day, he is
no Larsson. When Bellamy was at Celtic, they failed to win the league. Larsson
has been away from the club seven years, the same period of time he resided there with the number seven etched on his back. Nobody has come near to filling the void, including figures such as
Bellamy, Juninho and Robbie Keane.
They all remain poor imitations. If there is one thing to
remember in football, it is that money spent does not equal quality demanded.
Larsson was purchased for roughly £650,000 from Feyenoord in 1997 after winning
a contractual case to be released by the Dutch club.
There is something to be gleaned from such past papers on
the subject of spending wisely.
Rather than pursuing largesse, Celtic should continue their
search for the next Larsson with a sensible scouting policy. He is out there
somewhere. He does not come demanding a weekly wage packet of £80,000 per week.
He does not turn you down to play for Cardiff City in the Championship. Craig Bellamy should be left
alone to continue his charity work.