Our podcast is taking a summer break, but those who love a debate need fear not. It is time for two Roker Report writers to once again lock horns over a divisive Sunderland AFC issue.
The topic this week is one I am very much staying well out of! Those of you who are enlightened enough to listen to our podcast on a regular basis already know my feelings on this player. But Karl Jones and Dan Williams have opinions to voice, and want your votes to try and claim a win.
So, with no further ado, let us get down to business. Phil Bardsley... Which side of the fence are you on?
Dan Williams: Bardsley Has The LIKABILITY!
We at Sunderland like a trier. Let's be honest, you don't have to be the most technically gifted player in the world to impress us. Before Sess arrived, that was something of an understatement.
So, that's why Phil Bardsley is loved among Sunderland faithful. He's determined, he's dogged, he's committed, he'd put his body on the line for the good of the cause. He's everything that most modern-day footballers aren't anymore. He gives the proverbial ‘110%' and a little bit more on top.
When you throw in Phil's versatility, I don't know how he even has people on his back. This is a right-footed, right back, who was asked to play at left back by his manager, and picked up player of the season for his efforts. Okay, so when going forward down the left, he's somewhat predictable as he always comes back onto his other foot. I accept this to be true, but I will counter it with the fact that, on occasion, when switching to said right foot, he smashes the ball past the opposition goalkeeper.
Chris Makin was a cult hero at Sunderland and did the same thing, enjoyed a pot shot. The difference between our former right back and the current one is that Bardsley actually scores.
People are also always quick to point out that he often has to be the last man because of his poor positioning. Be as that may, how many times do you see Bardsley cleaning up mistakes with last-gasp tackles, making clearances off of the line (including that incredible header - think it was away at Bolton, he had no right to do it) and more. You may claim that it is his mistake that led to the chance, but it is always him that's there to save the day.
You know what you're going to get with Bardsley. You know that he is going to be full-blooded in the tackle, he'll be the first one in if one of his teammates is on the receiving end of a nasty tackle, and adding goals to his game has done him no harm either.
It really isn't a surprise that he took home player of the season gong in 2010-11. And although it wasn't his best campaign last time out, the fact that he came second in fans' rankings behind Sess shows just how much we appreciate a trier.
The phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none' may well apply to Philip Anthony Bardsley and we can all agree that he's never going to be the best player in the world, but as long as he keeps giving 100%, and there's no chance that will change, he's certainly good enough for me.
Karl Jones: Bardsley Is A LIABILITY!
Phil Bardsley has been around since the turn of the year in our first season back in the top-flight, for me by luck rather than judgement. Or to be blunt, Bardsley was saved because those who we bought to be improvements at right-back were catastrophes - Pascal Chimbonda I'm looking at you.
Now, that may be a little harsh to what I believe is now our second longest-serving player, but Bardsley has an innate ability to disguise his shortcomings; namely by trying hard and the recently-developed goal threat.
There are a number of stand-out moments etched in my brain. Firstly, his total acceptance that Matt Jarvis doesn't have a right foot before the winger picked out Steven Fletcher to head Wolves in front last season. His nightmare first half away to Blackburn Rovers where he insisted on being at odds with the rest of the back four, allowing numerous opportunities for Blackburn players to run through on goal before Bardsley 'heroically' cleaned up his own mess. Then there is his golden moment against Bolton Wanderers - where he neglected any defensive responsibility and sauntered back as a Wanderers punt up-field was allowed to be controlled by Kevin Davies, before said centre forward casually wandered into the back-post area that Bardsley, as full-back, needed to protect.
Alas, Bardsley wasn't even in the television frame when Davies put his side in front. Fans were critical of John O'Shea playing at full-back but in the corresponding fixture he showed exactly how to defend a far-post.
For all his long-range strikes, it would be nice just to have someone dependable - someone you know that will do what he is meant to be good at and do it well. Michael Turner seems to get a bad rap from fans for, want of a more eloquent term, ‘hoofball' yet it is Bardsley who attempts these kind of passes more than any other outfield player (193, according to WhoScored).
The result of him scoring a few goals has also made him more of a ‘head down' footballer, especially around the opposition area. Particularly when deployed at left-back, Bardsley will ignore those in front of him to cut inside and let fly.
Despite his faults, his determination is admirable and he appears to a well-respected member of the squad, but we should not give up on trying to find an improvement at right-back.
So which side of the debate are you on? Is Phil Bardsley a likable and decent member of the side or a frustrating liability who should be replaced at the earliest possible opportunity? Cast your vote and join the debate in the comments section!