History-maker Craig Bellamy is Cardiff City’s leader of the pack
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Ole Gunnar Solksjaer wants former Canary Craig Bellamy to remain Cardiff City’s leader of the pack.
Bellamy drew the Bluebirds level with a calm slot underneath John Ruddy to cancel out Robert Snodgrass’ opener before Kenwyne Jones rifled a winner seconds later. Solksjaer was keen to bring in the likes of exciting young prospects Wilfried Zaha and Fabio from Manchester United in the closing days of the transfer window, but his 34-year-old veteran will be key to the outcome of Cardiff’s relegation fight. Bellamy’s first Premier League goal for his hometown club also earned him a slice of history as the first man to score in the top flight for seven different teams during the modern era.
“That is a great achievement, but he’s not going to get an eighth, that’s for sure – he’ll be staying with us,” said Solskjaer. “He makes an impact with us on the training ground – he’s got standards that I was used to when I was playing where I was before – when you’re with players like Gary Neville, Roy Keane and Eric Cantona, they all demanded 100pc every day, and that’s exactly what he does. Craig’s a proud man and he’s proud to play for Cardiff.”
Solskjaer played down his own part in a maiden Premier League triumph since succeeding Malky Mackay following his decision to introduce Zaha to alter the flow of the game in the first half.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to make decisions and I felt it was right to put Wilf on,” he said. “He lifted the crowd, he lifted the players and maybe he frightened the Norwich defenders. He’s such an exciting talent. Going forward he’s one of the best players I’ve seen, but defensively we’ve got some work to do – but he’s a young lad, and he’s shown us already what he can do. Wilfried is exciting and he’s one of the best I’ve seen with the ball at pace.
“I was pleased with all the new lads. We brought Kenwyne in for what we saw - he’s a big target man who gives us something different. We played too much nice football in the beginning; sometimes playing a direct ball up to the frontman is the answer. Just looking at the first couple of touches Fábio had, he’s a great player.
“David (Moyes) has put trust in me as the person that’s best to take on him and Wilfried, to take them one step further and give them games.”
The Norwegian was also indebted to his keeper David Marshall’s shot-stopping prowess as he denied Norwich in a breathless finale.
“I’m not sure if nervous is the right word,” he said. “But it was a case of almost expecting them to score, as the momentum was with them at the end. We had the momentum towards the start of the second half, but they had it towards the end. Luckily we’ve got one of the best keepers in the league. David was wonderful, he kept us in the game and I think all of the players owe him a drink.
“I watched West Ham’s win over Swansea before our game and from seeing that and also Sunderland getting a good result, it felt even more important that we got the three points. We wanted a bright start, but again we started slowly - maybe I should do my half-time team talk before the game.”
Solksjaer’s side moved off the bottom of the Premier League table with victory ahead of a mammoth derby trip to Swansea City.
“When I came in I said I wanted to reach the top fifteen. That’s what we’re aiming for, and we’ve got a good chance because it’s so tight in there,” he said. “We also want to finish ahead of Swansea, so it’s a big game for us. We’re looking forward to it. It will be full of passion.”