'Misunderstood' Bellamy can be Kompany's secret weapon for Man City test

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'Misunderstood' Bellamy can be Kompany's secret weapon for Man City test

Vincent Kompany isn't the only former Manchester CIty player looking to topple the treble winners in their Premier League opener, with number two Craig Bellamy tipped to have a big role to play alongside his ex-team-mate at Burnley.

Kompany took over at Clarets boss in the summer of 2022, bringing Welsh international Bellamy on board as his assistant as they looked to bounce back from relegation. Despite a significant squad overhaul, the new coaching team at Turf Moor got the job done at the first time of asking, with Burnley winning the Championship title with 101 points.

Wayne Bridge played with both City stars at the Etihad Stadium during the early years of Manchester City's Abu Dhabi ownership, and saw the qualities of both. Speaking exclusively to Mirror Football at the GGPoker VIP table at WSOP Super Circuit London, the former England left-back explains why he feels the pair can thrive in the top flight - even if a meeting with the champions is a challenge on opening day.

"Bellamy, I think some people just misunderstand him, think he's a bit wild, a bit crazy," Bridge says. "[He] was a very good footballer, very intelligent footballer.

"Whenever me and him were training with the kids he'd always stay behind to help the kids. He was a really good player but you could tell he was trying to help the kids, and I think seeing that you kind of think 'he'll be a good coach, he'll be able to help people'.

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"I just remember Bellamy helping one of the full-backs and stuff like that, telling him what he should be doing if a winger's coming up against you, and he'd always help them out tactically a little bit. That's why I say he's misunderstood, a lot of people think he's a bit wild, some of the stories that came out about him, but for me... I think he's a great lad, he's an intelligent guy and very knowledgeable when it came to football."

How will Burnley get on this season? Have your say in the comments section

'Misunderstood' Bellamy can be Kompany's secret weapon for Man City testFormer team-mates Vincent Kompany and Craig Bellamy are back together in the dugout (Ed Garvey/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
'Misunderstood' Bellamy can be Kompany's secret weapon for Man City testThe pair led Burnley to promotion last season (Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images)

Bellamy also worked under Kompany at Anderlecht, where the Belgian boss began his playing and managerial careers. At just 37 years of age, Kompany will be the youngest manager in the Premier League for its opening weekend, but Bridge saw the former centre-back's qualities when he was much younger.

"I think with Vinny he was just so grown-up for his age," the ex-England international says. "Sometimes a footballer, you end up not growing up that well, not maturing that quickly, because football is all you do and you start getting paid [a lot], but Vinny just had his head screwed on.

"Very mature for his age, I'm sure when I was there he was working on getting some kind of masters or something, so he was a very intelligent guy."

'Misunderstood' Bellamy can be Kompany's secret weapon for Man City testWayne Bridge played with Burnley manager Vincent Kompany at Manchester City (Sharon Latham/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Bridge doesn't expect City to lose any motivation after their treble success. The bigger challenge could lie in replacing outgoing players, though, with Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez moving on after winning countless titles between them.

"You'll always have the motivation because you always hate losing," he adds. "You lose the first game and you want to go out there and win again, so you'll always have that motivation."

"But one or two players going, sometimes it affects the players that are already there and thinking 'can i fill his shoes'. Then it's who do you bring in, they might look like the right players, they take time to settle."

'Misunderstood' Bellamy can be Kompany's secret weapon for Man City testWayne Bridge has backed his former team-mates to impress as Premier League coaches (Neil Stoddart)

Kompany, Bellamy and Bridge all joined City in the 2008-09 season, with the latter two arriving in January as City continued to splash the cash under their new owners. More than a decade on, the transfer policy has become more targeted under Pep Guardiola but new signings still arrive when required.

This summer, that has meant a move for Mateo Kovacic as Gundogan's replacement. There could yet be more arrivals, though, with Josko Gvardiol top of the list, and the manager will need to decide whether to replace Mahrez from within after Cole Palmer's success with England's Under-21 side.

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Burnley have been very busy themselves as they prepare for a return to the top table. Jordan Beyer and Michael Obafemi have joined permanently after successful loans, while former City keeper James Trafford - an international team-mate of Palmer's for the under-21 Euros victory - one of several other arrivals.

Wayne Bridge was competing at the World Series of Poker Super Circuit in London, in association with GGPoker, on the VIP table event to celebrate the opening night of two weeks of professional Poker action in the capital. Former boxing champion Carl Froch saw off fierce competition to take home the first prize of WSOP Mystery Millions buy-in!

Tom Victor

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