Lee Bowyer - the outcast of the Premiership?
Latest news today is that Steve Bruce's attempts to sign Lee Bowyer have been scuppered by the less than 1%, it has been stated on the Birmingham FC official web-site, of fans who have signed an online petition calling for the proposed deal to be denied. Fans who feel in opposite to that opinion have voiced such opinion to the local Evening Mail and within the site's fan forum. Clearly the midfielder's reputation proceeds him.
Despite the support received for his officially signed presence at St. Andrews, Bowyer has decided he wishes not to be playing at a club which doesn't want him. Considering it was only less than 1%, so far, who were in dissent to his possible signing, until any other opinions are made clear, 99% are not against him, so to say the club will not welcome him is not exactly true. Were he to play for Birmingham, who is to say he wouldn't play so well as to win over any dissenting fan? But I sense those who are, or were, in dissent are concerned with Bowyer off-the-pitch rather than on, with the exception of his disagreement with Kieron Dyer against Aston Villa at St. James' Park on April 2nd this year.
Let's mention the court case regarding the vicious assault on, particularly, an young Asian male. The overall opinion of anyone following that case was that Bowyer was guilty of some involvement in the assault, despite being acquitted. Why? Because these same people believe he has the tendency within him to be racially abusive. Or failing that, he has the tendency to become violent, that he has a quick temper. I recall when Gareth Barry took Bowyer away from the scene in that game, Bowyer's face had a snarl on it. Interpret that as you wish, it looked more than unsavoury.
Before that in 1996, he was caught on CCTV throwing chairs around a McDonalds outlet in the Isle of Dogs. He pleaded guilty, was fined by Leeds and a magistrates' court, ordered to pay damages to the staff.
On the field, to add to the Kieron Dyer moment, there is also the stamping incident during the UEFA Cup match against Malaga at Elland Road on December 12th 2002, on Gerardo. Perhaps another moment in the heat of the game, for which UEFA banned him for six European games. Just before that incident, in 2002, The FA banned him for six Premiership games when he elbowed Gary McAllister, who was then at Liverpool (miss you, McA!).
Steve Bruce is adamant Bowyer is the right man for Birmingham's midfield, despite his history. For me, he was certainly a valuable player for Leeds, tremendous late running from midfield similar to those we witness with some awe by the Arsenal players and a tenacious appetite in his competitiveness. From the verge of a promising England start to scrapping with a teammate, Bowyer now cannot step anywhere without his past going before him.
Newcastle United FC were content Bowyer initiated the April 2nd incident, which he did, but I believe both he and Dyer are guilty of that moment, as it takes two, and Dyer aimed a punch as well. Had Dyer continued on focusing on the play rather than turn to Bowyer to confront him, it may not have happened. But because it is Lee Bowyer with a bad history, he is being persecuted. I believe the CPS have considered or are considering a case against him for that incident, more fuel to the fire.
For me, as a result of his history, Bowyer should take the opportunity given to him by Birmingham. Steve Bruce has developed the club from Division One status to the top and they finished 12th 2004-2005. It would be a new slate, both the manager and chairman David Gold are behind him and he could actually prove how he is a better behavioural player.