Joker Jimmy Bullard must start proving himself on pitch for Ipswich Town
IPSWICH TOWN: It’s time for the clown prince of Portman Road to get serious.
Dressing room joker Jimmy Bullard has two weeks to decide how he wants to spend the dwindling years of his football career.
He could remain on the periphery of Paul Jewell’s young and hungry squad and collect his reportedly big pay cheque.
Or he could come out fighting and start winning back the love of the Blue Army after he was suspended for two weeks for turning up late for training 48 hours before Saturday’s 3-0 home win over Bristol City.
Bullard could easily question why team mate Michael Chopra, who also arrived back in Suffolk late after the pair frequented Newcastle night-spots last week, was afforded a different disciplinary action.
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The striker was fined two week’s wages but started the match against the Robins, instantly winning back fans by scoring the opening goal in Saturday’s comfortable win.
Jewell admitted after the match that Bullard and Chopra’s ‘crime’ was the same but the punishment would be very different.
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The truth is that Chopra has always given everything to the Ipswich cause this season, scoring 13 times despite his off-the-pitch problems, old and new.
You definitely can’t say the same about Bullard who has struggled to replicate the form he showed when he arrived on loan last season and ended his spell with the supporters’ player of the year award.
There was virtual dancing in the Suffolk streets when Jewell managed to sign Bullard on a permanent deal after his ill-fated time at Hull City finally reached a conclusion.
But after starring in the defensive part of the diamond earlier in the season, the 33-year-old has struggled ever since.
He hasn’t started a match for three months as the likes of Luke Hyam and Andy Drury, who scored a scorching third goal for Town on Saturday, have stepped up to the plate.
Jewell, who played down questions suggesting Bullard would never play for Town again, admitted that he was saddened by having to punish “the life and soul of the dressing room”.
The Blues boss added: “I know Jimmy, he’s a fantastic lad, he loves football and loves training. He’ll be devastated we’ve taken that away from him for two weeks.”
Fans might still love joker Jimmy but they are starting to fear their favourite could become an expensive transfer flop.
After settling his protracted contract disagreement with Hull over the last few days, he now has a fortnight to get his mind right and then prove he remains in love with football and Ipswich Town.