If an arguably questionable Christmas party wasn’t enough to finish off the increasingly embattled Steve Clarke era at West Bromich Albion, a fourth consecutive Premier League loss certainly was, apparently.
West Brom removed Clarke from his position Saturday.
The BBC was first to report the news late into the evening in England.
The Baggies have lost four in a row, including a 1-0 setback Saturday to Cardiff City. That left West Brom uncomfortably close to the relegation zone, just two games north of it and moving the wrong way. Clarke’s side had just one win in his final 10 matches.
With Hull up next for the Baggies, a great opportunity at home to get things pointed in a better direction, club officials apparently didn’t want to waste any more time (or opportunities).
Just this week, West Brom’s top man found himself defending his players’ choice to have a rip-roarin’ Christmas party in Dublin, insisting he had no problems with the oddly timed throwdown. (Not “oddly timed” because of the calendar; it is Christmas time after all. But “oddly timed” because West Brom was struggling so in league play, and perhaps someone might have thought better of all this, the potential PR hammer blow of dancing in the streets amid a painful losing streak. Then again, these are professional athletes and not PR mavens.)
Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.
The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.
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Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.
According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.
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Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.
Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.
Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.
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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.
Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:
“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”
That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”
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There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?