THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

24 July ~ Why does no club seem to want Jimmy Bullard? He is, after all, a considerable talent on the pitch and all larks and gags off it. His humble beginnings, rapier wit (though with footballers, all things are relative) and general chirpiness when faced by a television camera have made him one of the game's most likeable characters. But, as Hull City and their supporters have found, there is a dark side to the Bullard phenomenon.

We felt that Fulham fans were surprisingly philosophical about Bullard's departure for the KC for £5 million in January 2009. Some even positively welcomed the move. Bullard had been angling for an expensive new contract with the Cottagers who, conscious of his injury record and their own financial situation, called his bluff when the Tigers' bid came in. Of course, we were thrilled to bits having acquired an experienced player who, with a bit more luck, would have had a fistful of England caps.

The week Bullard signed, we had an FA Cup fourth round tie against Millwall. Bullard had a heavy cold and so was restricted to a brief jaunt on to the pitch to pose with an oversized black and amber scarf. He came off the bench for a league game at West Ham the following midweek and had one smart shot at goal that was saved, before taking a severe rake across his dodgy knee. He fell in a pained heap but was able to complete the match.

Then it emerged that the cruciate injury Bullard suffered while playing for Fulham had resurfaced. He was gone for the season. The Tigers had invested £5m and committed to a £45,000 per week wage in return for 33 minutes of football. When Bullard finally made his home debut – nine months after signing – he ran the show against Stoke City in a 2-1 win. After further good performances against West Ham and Manchester City, the curse of Bullard's knee struck again. In a tame challenge with James Milner, Bullard did one of those airborne piked landings usually reserved for springboard divers and landed very badly, injuring his other knee. After that Villa game he was nowhere to be seen until the end of February, by which time the team was in trouble.

Bullard's first game back was a 5-1 thumping at Everton and then came the infamous brawl with Nick Barmby which was witnessed by the local WI. A week later, Arsenal beat the Tigers with a 93rd-minute winner and Phil Brown got the sack. Brown was Bullard's pal, with whom he had golfed and socialised long before he had joined the Tigers. Awful surrenders followed under "Temporary Football Management Consultant" Iain Dowie, during which Bullard ducked out of challenges and didn't exercise his usual calming influence in possession. He was substituted at half-time in the third to last game against Sunderland and, with City effectively relegated once that match ended in another loss, was not picked again.

Adam Pearson, the head of football operations, had made it clear that Bullard is too expensive and should find a new club. It has further been reported that he is due a substantial rise on his already astronomical wages for every 15 games he starts. The number of games he has currently started is 13. Suddenly, the reason for his absence – given at the time as an injury – from those last two dead rubbers of the Premier League season becomes clear. No English club has expressed an interest in Bullard, even as a loan signing. The only club to offer terms is Celtic, and the move broke down quickly thanks, unsurprisingly, to Bullard's wage demands which Pearson described as "absolutely ridiculous". Bullard has been absent from pre-season friendlies so far. When the Championship season kicks off, he seems set pick up his "basic" wage and not play.

Of course, there is a school of thought that little of this is Jimmy Bullard's fault. He signed a deal with a club that pretended it could afford him and the instant resurfacing of his injury was little more than exceptionally hard luck. He would have been determined to secure himself in case another kick on the knee sent him to the scrapheap. The principal culprit here is the former hierarchy at Hull that agreed to the deal. But since Brown left, Bullard has shown an arrogance and complacency during a time of crisis that Hull fans can't forgive. He knows the club is struggling financially and that the fans are scared stiff about what the future holds. A gesture of some kind would surely not be beyond him. The club has given him a lot with very little in return. Matthew Rudd

Comments (8)
Comment by markiemania 2010-07-24 11:23:53

No one wants Jimmy because of his incredible wage demands, and the injury risk factor! I mean Bullard has been more than happy to take the wages from City, Why on earth don't injured footballers have to go on statutory sick pay! They'd soon be back on their feet!
The players should have to insure themselves against loss of earnings, And let insurance companies fight over who was responsible, It would make players think twice about diving in with horrendous tackles too! Just like managers who get fantastic payoffs for underachieving, These people are crippling the clubs they are supposed to be pushing forward! Money has ruined football!

Comment by Bishopville Red 2010-07-24 14:45:34

On that note, why haven't clubs insured salaries of players against injury? It's a pretty standard process in North America so clubs aren't biting the bullet on a multi-million dollar contract when the player is broken in two.

Offering up contracts they simply can't afford is the problem of the club, not the player. Clubs and their doctors get to poke and prod every inch of the player to determine he'll be able to hold up his end of the bargain; players are not allowed to look at the books to ensure the club can actually pay what they've agreed to pay.

It might sound mercenary, but I don't think Bullard owes Hull City AFC any more than what's stipulated in the contract. If he did have a dodgy knee going into the deal, the Hull Doctors should be fired and sued for incompetence.

Comment by Janik 2010-07-24 15:34:38

Bishopville, it is also common practice in Europe. However, due to Bullard's fairly appaling injury record, Hull were unable to secure cover.

Really, truly, this is Hull's own fault, and very little blame attachs to Bullard. Given that it's his last realistic chance of a large contract, asking him to waive it is eseentially asking him to make a multi-million pound donation to Hull City. I see no reason why he should.

Comment by look_back_in_amber 2010-07-25 01:31:44

Bishopville at the end of your post you point the finger of blame at the Hull medical staff, this is totally ridiculous and shows your ignorance in this matter.

The Hull medical staff advised the club NOT to sign Bullard as they had detected a problem in one of his knee's, Duffen & Brown, fools that they are, declined the advice and signed him up anyway so if you're going to point your finger in future please ensure that you point it in the right direction by checking your facts first which then won't make you appear to be the prize plonker that you obviously are!

Comment by LBNo11 2010-07-25 14:58:25

...from hero to zero, now you know why we Fulham fans refer to him as Bu££ard...

Comment by Efficient Baxter 2010-07-26 10:10:31

I'm still surprised that Bullard's behaviour just before leaving Fulham is often overlooked. Wants all that came out, Fulham fans were more than happy to see him go.

Comment by Jongudmund 2010-07-26 13:37:00

If the manager did sign him over the club doctor's advice (which Look Back in Amber seems to suggest), then surely the club have a case against Phil Brown for not discharging his duties in a professional or sensible manner?

Comment by Dalef65 2010-07-26 16:34:41

Given that before his injury,Jimmy Bullard was on the edges of the England Squad,his wages are probably no higher than they ought to be by todays PL standards.
So I really cant see what the player has done wrong myself.
This article seems to be a thinly-veiled public calling for Jimmy Bullard to take a self-imposed pay cut for the benefit of Hull City.
Why the hell should he do that?
Hull City and their fans were quite happy to have Premiership status and have all the big name players,internationals, and foreigners come in...
Now individual players are being scapegoated for the ensuing financial mess that relegation has brought.Injuries are part and parcel of the risk of football and clubs and fans cant quibble when players get injured.The comment that Bullard was ducking out of challenges is scandalous in my view.The author may not like the guy but such comments are out of order.And what is this arrogance and complacency that Bullard has shown?
Would that be simply to ask Hull to abide by the terms of a mutually agreed contract....???Again out of order..
We had something similar to this when Portsmouth went into administration a couple of months ago,they tried to make Sol Campbell look bad simply for demanding money that was contractually due to him......
The bottom line is that some of these clubs need to look at themselves and try living within their means,rather than blaming easy targets(ie the players).
We all know that wages at the top end of English football are at silly levels,but the question should be why do chairmen of clubs that should probably be in League One hand out silly contracts?

Jimmy Bullard has done nothing wrong,lay off him

(No we are not related)

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