Bullard Suspended, Chopra Fined
Saturday, 3rd Mar 2012 18:05
Town boss Paul Jewell has confirmed that midfielder Jimmy Bullard has been suspended for two weeks and has revealed that striker Michael Chopra has been fine two weeks’ wages for being late for training after spending Wednesday night out in Newcastle.
Jewell explained his decision at the post-match press conference after the 3-0 victory over Bristol City: “There were two players who were out in Newcastle on Wednesday and at places they shouldn’t have been at times they shouldn’t have been and didn’t make training, or rather were 15 or 20 minutes late.
“I had a decision to make and decided to suspend Jimmy for a fortnight because the one thing that Jimmy loves is playing football and training, so I decided that maybe the best way for Jimmy to learn or to punish him is to suspend him.
“I don’t want to do it but I think it’s the best thing, we have to do something, we can’t have players doing that.”
He confirmed that Michael Chopra, who netted his 100th career league goal against the Robins, will be fined the maximum two weeks’ wages: “Michael Chopra will be getting fined. They’re both guilty of the same crime, to some people it might look a bit strange, but my view, my humble opinion, is to fine Michael Chopra and not to suspend him for two weeks.
“With Chops’s well-documented problems that might be counter-productive. For anyone who is wondering why the decision has been made and how it has been made, they’re the reasons.
“I thought sending Michael away for two weeks would be counter-productive for the team and certainly for Michael.”
Jewell, who says clubs can either fine or suspend players for disciplinary matters, admitted suspending Bullard was a difficult decision to make: “It’s never easy to suspend a player who I have signed twice, who is the life and soul of the dressing room. It’s not easy but what I’ve got to try and do is what’s right for the team or the club.
“The players have made a mistake, but we’ve all made mistakes, I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and I’ve dealt with it the way I feel is best. Whether that’s the right way or the wrong way, I don’t know. But I felt that was the right thing to do for the good of our team.”
The Town boss dismissed suggestions that Bullard, who is understood to have now settled his dispute with former club Hull City, is notorious for off-field issues: “I don’t know that he has got a terrible reputation. I know he’s had documented problems at Hull but this is the first time I’ve ever had a problem with Jimmy and I can only speak as I find.
“I think more importantly he’s let himself and his team-mates down, that’s what’s happened. I’ve dealt with it, whether that’s the right way or the wrong way. I understand I’m going to get questions but I’ve been up front with you, I’ve told you why I’ve done it and what I’ve done and there’s not too much more to say.”
He says terminating Bullard’s contract – as was the case at Hull in the summer after an alleged indiscretion on a pre-season trip to Slovenia – isn’t in his thoughts: “That hasn’t come into the equation.
“He’s late for training – everyone’s been late for training in their life – but the circumstances surrounding why they were late for training are not a normal late for training crime.”
Jewell says Chopra has let the club down given the way they have helped him with his gambling problems: “He has, there’s no doubt about that, but the biggest person he’s let down is himself. He represents himself and he’s let himself down.”
He says the rest of the squad made their annoyance clear: “In fairness to the rest of the players, they were extremely unhappy that they turned up late for training on the Wednesday.
“But life goes on and Michael’s scored a good goal today, has put in a good performance and we’re a better team with him in it, there’s no doubt about that.
“Some people might say that I’m treating people differently but one thing I’ve learnt in football management is that you can’t treat everybody the same. You’d like to think everyone is the same, but it’s all about getting the best out of people, and ultimately the best out of the team. I think he’s been terrific over the last six or seven games, he’s our main player, no doubt about it.”
Jewell quashed suggestions that Bullard might use his time off to take a trip to Las Vegas: “Jimmy would have been happy with a fine. He won’t be in Las Vegas for two weeks because he has to give his whereabouts, every player has to give an address where they’re going to be every day of the week for drugs testing.
“I know Jimmy, he’s a fantastic lad. He loves football, he loves playing, he loves training and he’ll be devastated that we’ve take that away from him for two weeks.”
The Town manager says both players expressed their regret regarding the incident: “They both said sorry. They apologised.
“Both the lads know they’ve let themselves down, they’ve let me down, they’ve let the players down, they’ve let everyone down.
“Sometimes things happen and we’ve got to deal with them. In life nothing goes smoothly, nothing goes the way you expect it to. I don’t want to lambast the players, they’ve made a mistake, it’s a bad mistake, let’s move on.”
Jewell says his squad are well aware of the dangers of social media, Bullard and Chopra’s nights out having been documented on Twitter: “The players know that.
“But the rest of the squad weren’t [out in Newcastle]. The rest of the lads went out in London on Tuesday, bonding, [Bullard and Chopra] broke the rules, that’s it.”
Photo: Action Images
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