‘We play shapes, not formations’: Bellamy plots his Wales shake-up

Former captain plans to challenge people’s perceptions now he’s managing the ‘best football nation in the world’

To get a flavour of quite how hungry Craig Bellamy is to succeed as a manager, listen to him talk about watching Wales’s next opponents, Turkey, eight times in the past week, since it became apparent he would get his hands on the job he has always pined for. Bellamy the player was an emotional leader, an inspirational figure and firebrand happy to dig out teammates after weak performances, but Bellamy the coach is an obsessive used to turning in marathon days in pursuit of victory. Poring through clips of players is one example of his inner workings. “I’ve got a load of South Africa at the moment, but I think we’re OK,” he says, smiling.

It may come in handy down the line. After all, Bellamy’s overarching aim is to help Wales to make the 2026 World Cup. He is a magnetic, patriotic and complex character and an hour in his company at Hensol Castle, on the outskirts of Cardiff, flies by as he discusses everything from the Owain Glyndŵr tattoo celebrating Wales’s 15th-century victory over England at the Battle of Pilleth on his right arm and his mental wellbeing to the erosion of some footballing fundamentals. “I think you need to move away from formations, need to start looking at football differently, we don’t play formations, we play shapes,” he says. “The idea is: ‘Can I create an extra player in a part of the field where you [the opposition] don’t have it?’”

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