You can’t stay mad at big kid Bullard

MANAGER Paul Jewell has labelled him a free spirit – and Jimmy Bullard certainly lived up to it on his first day back at Ipswich Town yesterday.

With a throng of television, radio and newspaper journalists waiting to speak to the charismatic midfielder after training, there was a comic moment when nobody really knew quite where he’d gone.

As deadlines ticked ever nearer a minor panic ensued as club officials desperately tried to locate him. Then, casual as you like, he came wandering out.

“All right everyone,” he said with his East London twang, shooting a cheeky grin as his hair still dripped from the shower.

That’s the thing with Jimmy, just like a naughty child who’s just been caught scrawling on the wallpaper with crayons, it really is impossible to stay mad at him once he shoots you that mischievous look.

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Even less so when it transpires that the delay was down to the fact that he insisted on hugging each and every member of staff.

Jewell knows he has a player on his hands who has little regard for rules and, quite frankly, he’s prepared to make an exception.

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“He drives you mad at times because he’s such a free spirit,” said the Blues boss, shaking his head with a smile.

“He always wants to get on the ball, sometimes in areas you don’t want him to, but one thing is he’ll never hide in games and I think we need that right now. He’s not a shrinking violet and he’ll get people going.

“He’s just that sort of character that doesn’t seem to let anything get him down. The players are waiting to welcome him with open arms.”

From his goal celebration at Hull which mimicked manager Phil Brown’s lecturing of the players, to his spoof shampoo advert and the comical looks he once shot at Everton hot-head Duncan Ferguson, Bullard has always been gold dust for television’s football magazine shows.

“I get set up for a lot of it,” insisted Bullard when quizzed about his prankster tag. “Honestly, I do!

“The boys will say do this and do that and I just do it, I suppose. They’re just loading bullets for me all the time. It gets me into circumstances, but I don’t really see myself as a prankster.”

For all the charisma, there’s undoubtedly a shy side to Bullard too and yesterday, manager and team-mates alike said it was a quiet return to Playford Road by his standards.

More than anything though, Blues fans will be hopeful he does his talking on the pitch.

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