Chopra Work-Rate Second To None (Or Maybe One!)
Former Cardiff City striker Michael Chopra gave an emotional interview to the South Wales Echo (see here in which he soke of the persistent rumours, gossip and hurtful comments aimed at him last season. After leaving City to join Ipswich Town for £1.5m, Chopra defended himself against the personal attacks.
Last season was desperately frustrating for the fans and players at Cardiff City. None moreso than Chopra, who endured a torrid time with injuries and was forced to play second fiddle to Bellamy after the Welshman switched to a more advanced role later in the season. There was considerable similarity between Chopra's position, and (ironically) the one in the previous season where Ross McCormack barely featured through injury and then Chopra's presence up-front.
The former Newcastle and Sunderland man did not reach his peak fitness, and was troubled by off-field problems including late night parties and gambling. He was blamed by many for his part in a late night session enjoyed by several players, just before a crucial match against Middlesbrough - a dismal game in which we were thrashed 3-0. Chopra refuted those allegations, but It's clear the media furore andinternet messageboards upset him at the time.
Chopra was the biggest wage earner at the club, and formerly a star striker. If fit and focussed, he would have been a brilliant asset and goalscoring option.
It's quite simply ludicrous to suggest (as some have) that Chopra didn't care, or was lazy. In fact, I would praise Chopra immensely for his on-pitch attitute and work-rate - which was highly impressive and bettered only by Kevin McNaughton. Whilst clearly short of form and frustrated, Chopra chased, harried and closed down as much as ever. As a team, we were lacking creativity but Chopra never gave up and continued to work hard even without chances.
Whilst last season as a whole, and Chopra individually was disappointing, he remains a very good player and one who will surely benefit from a change, going on to score goals next season for the Tractor Boys. We were lucky to have him, and I'll be glad to see him scoring - as long as it's not against us, and Ipswich aren't directly competing with us! Good luck Chops....