Notts County: Captain Neal Bishop desperate to atone for 'stupid' red card
NEAL Bishop is desperate to atone.
The Notts County captain is set to return from suspension against Walsall in League One tomorrow, after serving a three-game ban.
And the 31-year-old midfielder says he was stupid to get sent off late on in their win at Portsmouth two weeks ago for lashing out at Pompey midfielder Johnny Ertl – especially because the Magpies led 2-0 from goals from Jeff Hughes and Francois Zoko and the game was all over.
Bishop says his ban has been made even worse because he has had to sit and watch as his team-mates lost twice, to Hartlepool United and Stevenage, and his manager Keith Curle got the sack.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
"With what has happened, I should have been out there as captain, leading from the front, but from my own stupidity I wasn't," he said. "I let my manager down big style and when it comes out that one of the reasons he got sacked was our disciplinary record, you beat yourself up.
"I rang him up and apologised straightaway because it hurts me that I might have played a part in him getting sacked.
"I have got to make amends and I'm going to be fighting hard to get my place back."
It was Bishop's third red card since he joined Notts in 2009 – and the Magpies' seventh of this season.
"We were 2-0 up, we'd won the game, it was last minute and I was silly to react when their lad walked all over me," added Bishop. "I've got to learn to count to ten at times."
He has certainly learned to count to ten when it comes to managers at Meadow Lane – but it does not help him calm down!
In three-and-a-half years, he has had ten different bosses – Ian McParland, Hans Backe, Dave Kevan, Steve Cotterill, Craig Short, Paul Ince, Carl Heggs, Martin Allen, Curle and now Chris Kiwomya, who is in caretaker charge of the club.
A lot of people were shocked Curle was axed after less than a year in the job because he almost led Notts into the play-offs last season and they were still in the frame for the top-six this time.
But Bishop said: "I've been at this club long enough to know nothing is a shock when it happens. We're all gutted for him, everyone knows the bond he had with us players.
"I'm fed up of people telling me that's because we had it too easy, he was too pally because that's not it at all. He was hard and he was fair and, as players, that is all you can ask for.
"He was strict when he had to be and he let us get on with it when he felt it was right.
"We could see he was taking this club forward and that's the reason everyone is so disappointed.
"We know we had one of the good guys, one of the good managers and coaches, who knew what he was doing."
Curle took Notts to the top of the table in September and kept them in the top-six for almost all of the first three months of the season, but they won just two of his last eight league games in charge and also crashed out of the FA Cup to League Two Rotherham United.
Bishop says their form at the end of Curle's reign was not that bad – and all they missed was a top striker.
"For me, the form was indifferent. It wasn't great, but I don't think you can call it poor," he said.
"Stevie Wonder could see what was missing from the team, everyone has said it often enough.
"Last season he (Curle) came in and got some brilliant loan players in, like Lloyd Sam and (Daniel) Bogdanovic, and that pushed us on.
"Maybe if he had been given the chance to do it this season we could have done the same again."
He never got that chance – and Bishop says some people never gave Curle a chance from day one.
"Ever since he came in there seemed to be a bit of negativity around and certain people didn't want to give him a chance," he said.
"For me there is far too much negativity around this place, whether it comes from certain players in the team, or certain people behind the scenes, it's not right.
"Certain people in the media hype it up as well, which I don't agree with, because from the outside looking in I don't think you would say there is an awful lot wrong with this club.
"When you're in the middle of it, it seems like madness at times."
Despite being gutted by Curle's dismissal, Bishop says the players are still determined to keep their promotion challenge alive.
Notts are now in 11th spot and ten points outside the play-offs ahead of facing the Saddlers.
"We're disappointed, but that doesn't mean we care any less about what happens on a Saturday," he said. "We're only a couple of wins from re-igniting our play-off push and we don't want this season to drift into nothing."