We know he’s on his way out and would probably have gone had he not broken his foot playing, at 28, for the Under 21s. Now, of course, he’s been suspended by Sunderland for a daft case of social media-itis.
Scott Harrison, who has evolved in successive reports from “a Sunderland supporter” to the club’s Under 21 player of that name, posted a photograph on Instagram on Saturday after the 1-0 opening day home defeat to Fulham. He wrote: “#opening day (heart).”
Missing a great opportunity to shut up, as Nicolas Sarkozy once said of David Cameron, Bardsley replied as Bardoman26: “Great opening day. Hahahhahaha hahahhaha!!!”
How have the respected fallen. Only two seasons ago, Bardo’s honest efforts triumphed over his quality deficiency to the extent that supporters voted him player of the season. He also played well enough to be called up to play for Scotland. The response to his Instagram message was less friendly. One pointed out his reported wages of £32,000 a week, adding “and that’s how he treats the club”.
Back in May, Bardsley angered Paolo Di Canio and a good few others by allowing himself to be photographed lying on a casino floor covered in £50 notes. Inevitably, the picture found its way into the press. PDC made a venomous public attack on him, left him behind when the new-look squad went off to Hong Kong and told him to train with the Under 21s. “What is it about footballers and £50 notes?” our own Ken Gambles asked.
Prior to that, the player had an unhappy brush with the law when he parked his Range Rover illegally outside a betting shop while popping in to collect some winnings. He was already on nine penalty points and ended up being banned for six months. An appeal was rejected despite his lawyer’s protestations that the ban would greatly inconvenience Bardlsey, forcing his partner “to get up earlier to take their son to nursery”.
And now this. It seems unlikely the club would be able to fire him, and save on those generous wages, for such an indiscretion. Mocking a defeat for the club that still pays him handsomely is disrespectful, but does it actually bring the club into disrepute? Maybe they’ll try to argue as much. We shall see. A stiff fine seems more likely.
We cannot say whether Sunderland supporters will ever again see Phil Bardsley playing for or against SAFC, at any level. But what a rotten taste in the mouth will now be left by his latest piece of idiocy once he has departed the club for good.