Hull City's record signing Jimmy Bullard finds himself facing an uncertain future as the new season approaches.
The Tigers have made it clear to the former Fulham man that they see his future away from the KC Stadium as they look to trim a heavy wage bill. A move to Celtic fell through after the Scottish club were unable to meet the player’s wage demands although the Glasgow giants remain hopeful of resurrecting a deal, according to press reports.
It seems clear though that Bullard will need to move out if the Tigers are going to strengthen their squad before the season gets going. His lack of involvement in pre-season matches would suggest a move is the only option the club will consider.
When Bullard joined City back in January 2009 for a record £5m fee its fair to say he was handed a generous contract to tempt him back North. Bullard was seen as the sort of quality player who would help cement the club in the Premier League.
However, injuries have restricted Jimmy to just 13 starts in the black and amber shirt and he was unable to inspire the team to avoid the drop back into the Championship last season.
In Bullard's defence he had enormous expectations placed on his shoulders when he returned from injury back in October last year as he was seen as the talisman to lift City away from relegation.
But there was a feeling he was playing within himself at times, perhaps due to fear of picking up another injury which could threaten his career. Bullard did though score four goals - enough to make him the club's second top scorer in the league.
Whether Bullard could cope with the more physical demands of Championship football is up for debate, although the return of captain Ian Ashbee to the first team will provide some protection he would undoubtedly be a target for every midfield enforcer in the League.
The hurly burly nature of Scottish football may not appeal either and was possibly a factor in Bullards' lack of interest in a move to Celtic. The player's son is settled in a local school and with another child on the way Bullard has many factors to consider should he receive another offer to leave the tigers.
One factor not in his favour is that his wages have been the subject of much debate and discussion, high enough to put off many possible suitors and a cause of derision for some fans.
If he were to pledge his long term future to Hull City he may find support in the stands less forthcoming than before and he would have a job to get the majority of supporters back on side.
From the club’s point of view the need to move Bullard out on loan or by transfer is crucial so that money can be made available to boss Nigel Pearson to bring in new faces. Bullard has three years left to run on his contract and a compromise at the moment looks increasingly more unlikely.
A solution though is needed for the best interests of both player and club.
Whatever happens he will though always have a place in Hull City history for the best goal celebration away at Manchester City – his finger-wagging repeat of former boss Phil Brown’s infamous half time, on-pitch team talk.
*Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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