Cardiff City’s strong showing last year will give them real confidence heading into their first Premier League campaign and the experience and guile of Craig Bellamy will be a crucial factor if they are to finish the season in 17th place or higher.
The former Liverpool, Man City and Newcastle star has bags more top flight goals than the rest of Cardiff’s squad combined and he could be the key to defying relegation odds of 13/10.
Bellamy chipped in with four league goals last year and possesses pace that belies his 34 years. The Cardiff native broke down in tears on the pitch when City’s promotion was confirmed last April, showing the football world how much one last crack at the Premier League with his local club means to the 73 times capped Welshman.
Summer acquisitions have been limited thus far but Malky Mackay will be delighted to welcome former Tottenham centre-back Steven Caulker and Danish hot-shot Andreas Cornelius to Wales as he attempts to shore up Cardiff’s defence and add some bite in attack.
As Bellamy pointed out recently his team will have to keep believing they can stay up even if a tricky opening fixture at home to West Ham followed by home ties against Man City and Everton leaves them languishing early on.
Mackay will take heart from Southampton’s ultimately successful consolidation last season after a nightmare start to their campaign left the Saints with just four points from the first eight games.
Cardiff’s squad is not as strong as it should be but former Celtic defender Mackay has the players well-drilled and having finally reached the Promised Land after years of play-off heartache Bellamy and co will need no further motivation than the chance of a second term amongst the game’s elite.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date