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Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer
Written by prickettboy3 on Wednesday, 8th May 2013 12:31

I don’t remember how old I was or even who I first heard this old proverb from, but it stuck with me and is something I have reminded myself of a fair few times over the years.

It’s a strange one really, as if you’d genuinely consider somebody to be an enemy then why would you want anything to do with them at all, let alone allow them to be close?

The theory being of course that your enemy may just turn out to be of bigger use than those you thought were most trustworthy. This leads me on nicely to talk about our very own enemy in the camp, Michael Chopra.

Never in all my years supporting Ipswich Town have I known one player to cause so much division amongst supporters of the same team. It seems Chopra has become something of a ‘Marmite’ player, in that he’s either loved or absolutely despised.

At the risk of losing many readers at this point I will reveal that I’m on the side of loving him and what he brings to our team – something I will justify in greater length later in this blog.

I’m not overly surprised that Big Mick has chosen to move him on but I am slightly disappointed as I genuinely believe that Chops still has it in him to be a 20-goal-a-season striker in this league.

I fully appreciate why many of you can’t stand the man. He creates controversy in pretty much every post he makes on Twitter, called us all clueless and swears at us. He set himself up for a huge fall at the start of the season by declaring he’d get 25 (or was it 30) goals this year and fire us up to the Premier League.

Very cocky indeed, and perhaps naïve, but what would our reaction have been had he said in July “not really feeling it this year, probably gonna get five goals at best”? We would have absolutely slaughtered him and rightly so. This is our supposed top striker with a proven track record. Words of that ilk would have been entirely unacceptable.

Fortunately he did no such thing; he in fact said the opposite, that he was feeling fitter and sharper than ever before and had enough confidence to boast that he’d score a bucket load of goals. Good stuff, it filled us all with more confidence going into a new season.

Sadly, due to this rather brash statement he regularly gets slaughtered for failing to achieve his target and when he reacts to what is frankly unacceptable abuse from strangers, he receives a further barrage of abuse. It’s like adding fuel to a fire and it feels to me almost as though many of his followers want him to fail so they can get another dig in at him.

Don’t get me wrong, Michael Chopra has had a shocking season, both on and off the field. He is, however, still one of the top strikers for this level and I would prefer he was on our side rather than playing for a competitor – or enemy.

His off-field problems will, in my opinion, be the only reason he doesn’t find himself with a host of clubs queuing for his signature, and this might be a regret he will live with for a while yet.

Despite all the abuse he gets from his supposed ‘supporters’, the difficulties he’s had this year and the fact he’s now been told by his manager that he’s surplus to requirements, he continues to demonstrate his desire to stay at our beloved club and fight for his place.

I’m confused, isn’t this what we all ask from and at the very least expect of any player at our club? Yet when it’s Chopra he is then accused of money-grabbing and hanging the club out to dry.

I agree with Chopra when he asks why he should move when he still has one year left on his contract and is happy. If that was any of us in our professional lives wouldn’t we want to stick around and prove people wrong? I know I would, but maybe that’s just the stubborn man in me.

Irrespective of my opinion, it seems likely he will be moving in the next couple of months, but I would like to finish by justifying my earlier comment of explaining what I think Chopra has done for us and brought to the team this year, and the answer is obvious. Controversy.

We have just experienced our most appalling season in years. Granted, the past couple of months were highly enjoyable, but somehow we avoided relegation and it was far more comfortable for us than it was for eight other teams at the bottom.

Despite this incredibly poor season, the media – both local and national – have never focused on our predicament in great length, and us as supporters have found ourselves embroiled in arguments about a number of things unrelated to the on-field failures. For this I thank Michael Chopra, as his antics have diverted people’s attentions this year away from the other players and solely towards him.

Standing at the matches each Saturday someone would say to me “Did you see what Chops said this week?” or “Can you believe Chopra did that on Twitter?”. This has allowed for the other players, and indeed management, to get on with the task in hand without a huge media circus surrounding them.

We’ve seen many managers, great managers, do this sort of thing. Jose Mourinho is the master of it. He generates so much controversy that every story becomes about him and not his team. Deliberate? Very much so.

I’m not suggesting for one minute that Chopra’s antics have been deliberate – I’m not convinced he’s smart enough to concoct such a plan let alone carry it out to perfection – but deliberate or not it has worked. An entire season of mediocrity and below average performances going pretty much unnoticed due to Chopra.

There were of course his three match-winning goals which ultimately gained us nine points and secured our safety – but none of us want to talk about his football, do we?

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Reuser_is_God added 13:23 - May 8
So just because he scored 3 winning goals it's okay? What about the dozens of completely abject perfomrances by him? You say he's still a good player, but he's not. He is nowhere near the player he was when he was at Cardiff. He's awful & really isn't interested.

Well written blog though, just dont agree with it.

prickettboy3 added 13:29 - May 8
Not really saying it's ok Reuser, just that he doesn't deserve the huge amount of abuse he gets. Nobody does, unless they're a murderer. Regarding his ability, form is temporary and class is permanent. He still has it in him to be a prolific goalscorer.
Thanks for your comments :-)

MaySixth added 13:30 - May 8
An interesting blog but you didn't explain you reasoning for saying you thought Chopra is a 20 goal a season player.

Despite the odd bright moment, I don't think he is as good as he thinks he is. Seems to have lost a yard of pace and doesn't influence games enough.

Blue041273 added 14:28 - May 8
My view is that you should get a life and stop worrying about what most of us consider relatively unimportant. Michael Chopra has done nothing to improve us and now never will. Rueserisgod is spot on; he's no good and always will be no good. I enjoy reading blogs and am always prepared to open my mind to the views subscribed. This however, stretches even my limited sense of credibility.

Class is clearly a concept you don't understand. There is nothing 'classy' in any of MC's actions during his time as an ITFC player.

Sorry but that's the way it is. Your assertion that in our working lives we should be stubborn and hang around when we're not wanted is just plain nuts. In the real world we just move on. Hanging around just brings more pain, as MC will find out if he doesn't take the hint. Footballers are fickle creatures and MC will find that his friends within the club are few and far between.

I applaud and understand your desire to support the player, but for many, like me, his overall conduct as an Ipswich player is frankly indefensible and as far as I'm concerned the first taxi out of town can't be too soon for him to take.


hancockingoal added 14:37 - May 8
I dont think any player has provoked so much discussion and opinion since the infamous bust up between Mr Robson and Mr Baxter way back in 1971?
There can be little doubt that as a person, Michael Chopra is arrogant, deluded and probably not a very nice man? However with regards to his level of performance this season and I dont think he is entirely to blame? For most of the season our midfield has failed to create any clearcut chances for the the forwards, any striker has faced a thankless task of chasing high balls with very little or zero support? It is only towards the end of the season when team spirit was at its highest that chances were created. Unfortunately for Chopra, McGoldrick, Nouble and Murphy were full of confidence and could not be left out. Despite all his so called 'off field' problems I believe that Chopra would deliver the goods if he was playing in an exciting, creative team!

Fatcatevans added 14:39 - May 8
His three winning goals didnt deliver 9 points. We were drawing in each game so it s 6 additional points. But that's nothing really. the man has no class. The club bailed him out to the tune of £250,000. They sent him to California to improve his fitness, funded his rehab and how does he repay us? With minimal effort, pathetic tweets, a horse racing fix scandal, oh and 25 goals less than his much heralded self bragging target of 30. You say it made us feel good to hear him spout this. This is nonsense. We would far rather he kept his mouth shut for once and delivered on the pitch. For you to defend a man on £18k a week who has under achieved and embarrassed ITFC in such a way is amazing. Mick unlike you fortunately has him sussed.

Blue041273 added 16:38 - May 8
1. Every striker has to believe that he can score goals. Maybe not a bucketful but a good goals/games ratio perhaps might be good. As I have said on other threads I have sympathy with MC because of the 'one up front' strategy employed by PJ and the lack of a 'target man' to help him. However Chops has not delivered enough to date. None of us wanted him to fail but history will not be kind to him purely on his failure to deliver goals irrespective of his 'off-field' activities.

2. I take real issue with the assertion that this last season was 'appalling'. OK it started badly but once MM took a grip at the beginning of November we have been really competitive and on the basis of the results achieved, for the first time in years we can look forward to the start of a season with real optimism. However, this is not something for a debate involving Michael Chopra. Whatever our problems are, and there are many, few of them can be laid at MC's door personally.

MM has praised his attitude in training and I can accept the lack of grace in the latest comments. In the vernacular he must be 'disappointed' but he must surely see that he has 'disappointed' so many fans that now trying to hang on in is not really an option.


AlwaysBlue added 17:24 - May 8
This is a well-written blog. However, I fail to see the class in Mr Chopra's lack of professionalism. Whilst he may wish to prove those who fail to see his abilities wrong, his talent is not an excuse to disrespect his club, fellow professionals and most importantly ITFC fans. Twitter has a lot to answer for but Mr Chopra should have the sense to do the talking with his boots and not his tweets!

Pip50 added 17:35 - May 8
Love the blog...and agree on Chopra. Outside DJ it's not as if we had any other prolific goal scorers last season, with the tactics we deploy. Will it change next season Wolves supporters will say probably not!!
It could have been worse I accept.

Kikapu added 19:40 - May 8
He's clearly a simple lad with no manners or respect for others, but he is a proven striker. MM praised him for being just that after one of the matches. The chances are that he'll still be with us next year (would you buy him?). If he is, it might be that a few more players might just be more favourable to the way he plays and revitalise his performance. I wouldn’t put money on it, but you never know.

budgieplucker added 00:23 - May 9
An interesting blog and some fair points.

If I was a player of Chopra's quality - yes quality, I too would be frustrated for being played up front on my own most of the times under the Jewell circus expecting to compete for countless high balls against opposition defenders 6 inches taller than myself. Then as you point out even after Mick arrived and went 4-4-2 our midfield and wingers have remained pretty impotent in creating an abundance of chances and for much of Mick's tenure Chop's wasn't played. Mick I don't believe ever criticised his work ethic and attitude?

I saw this frustration on the pitch from time to time but I would never accuse him of being lazy or not trying.

So that's my defence of Chopra the footballer.

Onto Chopra the man - quite frankly the club should never have signed him with his baggage, but hey look at the premiership - full of arrogant overpaid, cheating individuals who will do anything to get another professional sent off.

Perhaps a reminder of the decency of Jason Scotland restores some faith and pride and a reminder that there are good honest pros out there. Jason you will recall didn't invoke his right to a contract extension at last season's salary, he agreed to reduce his wages for the new one year deal which we eventually paid up.

Thanks for the blog an interesting discussion points

prickettboy3 added 08:27 - May 9
Thanks to everyone for reading and for voicing your opinions. The purpose of the blog was not to defend Chopra's character - I've never met him but from the outside he seems a little "lost". As a footballer however he has a 1 in 3 golascoring record and is now reaching the so-called peak age for a striker, so I re-iterate that I believe he could still do a good job at this level and I firmly believe that MM's decision to offload him is partly due to his high wages and not solely based on his footballing ability.
What I wanted to highlight though (perhaps I didn't make it obvious) is that in hindsight his misdemeanours and off-field troubles may well have been a blessing in disguise for us as it provided much distraction away from the other players, thus relieving the pressure on them which - perhaps - contributed towards our end of season climb up the table. It's just a theory and hopefully provided some food for thought.

Kropotkin123 added 08:37 - May 9
Blog: You’re Not Fit to Wear the Shirt! 29th Oct 2012 13:38
I had pretty much finished writing this when the Richie Wellens article was posted, so I don’t know how people are likely to take it. I guess what I had written would have been a little more controversial prior to his open and frank assessment of our club. But I thought I’d finish what I had started for all to see. 32

- Goodbye Chopra, goodbye JET and thank you MM.

Fatcatevans added 09:12 - May 9
So you are thanking Chopra for behaving badly as you figure it may have distracted the pressure from the other players and contributed to our end of season revival? Wow you are as you said in your blog 'loving the man' you need to face facts. We have a disruptive ungrateful player on our books. The Manager has seen this and taken the decision to show the others he won't tolerate this type of attitude. You can't even say he's performed well when he played. DJ and McGoldrick managed to score goals despite the fact we weren't creating numerous chances. Your loyalty is to be admired but you need to face facts and leave the hero worship behind.

Walk_the_Wark added 14:43 - May 9
Like Chopra, always have. He's the best we have on his day- easily. Hope he stays and bags loads of goals next season

chripswich added 16:26 - May 9
perhaps he should learn to play badminton so that the idiots that brought him here can do the same again..
i dont blame chopra..he is addict has no empathy for anyone but themselves...even when in recovery..
i blame the prats that brought him here knowing full well his problems...
I have sympathy for his illness as i have experience of addiction in my family but you dont bring them into a team when you have a choice...
now the idiots have gone...shock will chopra
but not his fault..its an illness.

BossMan added 09:10 - May 10
Forgetting the off field antics for a second Chopra is over rated by many as a striker. He has done nothing at Ipswich and was 4th choice at Cardiff when they put him up for sale. All the talk of a lack of creativity in midfield is misleading as DJ played in front of the same midfield. Chopra has scored some important goals and some very good goals but he has had far more games when he did nothing and never looked like doing anything.

IamSpartacus added 20:07 - May 10
I'm not really sure where this idea that Chopra was a prolific scorer has come from. In 12 seasons he has scored a 'strikers' amount of goals in 3 seasons- and one of them in Div 1. So 2 seasons of scoring well for Cardiff.

The rest of the time he has been, well frankly, dismal in a lack of goals. Even if you take his career as a whole (mainly in the Champ) he has scored 1 goal in 3. If someone seriously thinks that constitutes a 'top scorer at this level', then I think they need to re-evaluate their rating system.

Well written blog, even if I don't have as much respect, regard or enthusiasm for Chopra. I think he was a waste of cash, has showed ridiculous amounts of lethargy- almost energetic in showing how little he can do.

Anyone that watched his performance in the first half against Hull will see what summed up his last 18 months at ITFC. He got little service but barely chased down defenders & made no effort to offer to team-mates. Essentially... pointless.

Goodbye, good riddance. A poor example of a character and player.

theobald1985 added 20:54 - May 10
he is an idiot
i do think he could easily hit 20 a season if played up front with a decent target man.
colchester got jamie cuereton as an outcast and he went on to top score in the champioinship playing up front with ilewumo.
i do think he needs to move on for his own good as sometimes it just does not work out.


Marshalls_Mullet added 18:17 - May 11
Chops has scored more than 20 league goals in a season only once in his career, nothing to suggest he will be our 20 goal a season man. His goals arent worth the baggage.

MVBlue added 05:58 - May 14
Chopra's desire to stay:
"Just coz I'm on the transfer list does not mean I hav 2 leave I hav 1 year left on my contract its down 2 the player if he wants 2 go or not" (sp)
" just because they accept a bid does not mean I will leave might not be the right club for me to go to"
He's a mentalist, he might have said he can score 20+ a season but his attitude means he won't.

Michael11 added 15:55 - May 15
I'm sorry but there is zero chance that Chopra has deliberately caused controversy to take the heat off the other lads. He causes controversy because he's a horrible little s**t. He has done absolutely nothing for this club except cause trouble. I for one can't wait to see the back of him.
He's taken advantage of our club because we were prepared to help him get his life back on track, yet he isn't prepared to do anything to repay us for it. At no point has he ever thanked the club for the help he's received. It winds me up when everyone says what a good striker he is at this level, but i'm sorry, when was the last time he had a good season? Must be 5 years ago at least.
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