Sometimes everybody wears a gray hat…

So Jimmy Bullard is gone, and in the immediate aftermath, it is difficult to avoid taking sides. Someone’s got to be the bad guy, right? Someone’s got to wear the black hat.

Except that in life and in football, there are rarely any downright bad guys. Just different goals and motives.

Q) Is Jimmy Bullard a bad guy?

A) No. He is a professional footballer. As such, it is his duty to show up to training, to listen to his manager, to play as hard as he can, to do his best, and to represent the club in public. Has Jimmy Bullard failed to do any of these things? He certainly never gave any less than his best, and while rumours of disagreements between him and Roy Hodgson have been rampant, nothing concrete has emerged.

Q) Is Jimmy Bullard a great big greedy guts?

A) It’s a matter of opinion, but I think not. By all reports, Hull are almost doubling his salary, plus offering him a long term contract. Any player around age thirty would be foolish to turn down a deal which could very well offer him guaranteed money up to his retirement. Jimmy knows better than most how fleeting football stardom can be, how it can all be taken from you in an instant. And the fact is, after this contract, the likelihood is that he will never again in his life make as much money.

Q) Is Jimmy Bullard being disloyal?

A) Personally, I feel the whole loyalty issue is a red herring. Jimmy Bullard played as hard as he could every time he stepped on the field. He wanted a new contract which Fulham did not offer him. There have been no signs that he refused to see out the remainder of his contract. Furthermore, he’s only been with Fulham for three years, a relatively small portion of his total playing career. And yes, Fulham did pay him his salary while he was injured. But for all we know, they were contractually obligated to do so. And frankly, considering he suffered a career-threatening injury in the service of the club, it would have been extremely cold and unfeeling for the club to do anything else. So, they protected their investment. And it’s paid off for the club hasn’t it?

Q) Is the club being disloyal?

A) No. They hired Jimmy Bullard to do a job. He did it. Now he works for someone else.

Q) Is the club being shortsighted?

A) Possibly. While the system is king (repeat after me: THE SYSTEM IS KING), there is no doubt that Fulham are a better team when Jimmy is working inside that system than they are without him… as far as we know. So in the short term this move could hurt. On the other hand, the club is being quite brilliantly farsighted. Jimmy Bullard *might* be worth 45,000k a week now. But the chances of him being worth that in four years is almost zero. It’s pretty likely that Hull are going to regret having this enormous albatross contract hanging around their necks in four years time. Furthermore, contrast Phil Brown’s approach with Roy Hodgson’s. Hodgson is clearly in it for the long haul. While I doubt he’s happy to lose Jimmy, he realizes that short term benefit isn’t worth risking the long term health of the club. Phil Brown is desperately searching for anything, anything, to stop the rot which is setting in now that the short term buzz of promotion has faded. So he says damn the future and Hull’s board has agreed. Good for them. And good for Fulham for having more sense.

SUMMARY: It is very disappointing to see Jimmy go. He was, on his day, a really fine player. But in the end, that’s football and that’s life. He and the club wanted different things, so they went different ways. So for us fans, caught in the middle between two entities we love, it’s important to remember that there isn’t always a hero and there’s not always a villain. Sometimes things just don’t work out.

Best of luck Jimmy. And I hope he gets a respectful round of applause next time he comes to Craven Cottage.

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One Response to “Sometimes everybody wears a gray hat…”

  1. r33g Says:

    good points made. however, what really aggravates me is the ‘Jimmy Bullard myth’ that the man himself has done much to engineer. I don’t have a problem with his wanting more cash, but his ‘I don’t play for money’ claims now are laughable at best, and insulting at worst.

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