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It’s official: Pardew named new West Brom boss

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Alan Pardew was hired as coach of West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday, securing a return to the Premier League after nearly a year out of management.

The 56-year-old Pardew signed a two-and-a-half-year deal as a replacement for Tony Pulis, who was fired by West Brom’s Chinese owner last week with the team near to the relegation zone.

Pardew inherits a team that is only two points above the bottom three, and is without a win in 13 games in all — 12 of those coming in the league. His first match in charge is on Saturday against Crystal Palace, the club that fired him last December.

“The immediate challenge will be to get the results we need to pull ourselves up the table,” Pardew said. “But I’m aware that while I’m joining one of the great, traditional clubs of English football, it is one determined to go forward in the Premier League.”

Pardew has also coached Newcastle, Southampton, West Ham, Charlton and Reading. West Brom was attracted by his experience of managing in the Premier League.

“Alan brings the experience of more than 300 Premier League games,” West Brom chairman John Williams said, “and the kind of dynamic leadership from which our club can benefit.”

Pardew was voted as the Premier League’s manager of the year in 2012 for guiding Newcastle to a fifth-place finish, but fell out of favor with the club’s fans and left for Palace in December 2014.

Again, he made a good start at a new club, lifting Palace out of the relegation zone and into the top half by the end of that season, but the south London team won only six of 36 games in 2016 and Pardew was fired before the year was over. He has since done some TV work.

While his immediate task will be to keep West Brom in the lucrative Premier League, he may also need to introduce a more positive brand of soccer. West Brom fans grew tired of Pulis’ pragmatic and direct approach, wanting more than just survival in the top flight but some entertainment, too.

The club from central England came under new ownership last year, with Chinese businessman Lai Guochuan becoming the majority shareholder. Backed by Lai, West Brom spent $40 million in the summer and enriched the squad with players like Poland midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak from Paris Saint-Germain, left back Kieran Gibbs from Arsenal, and winger Oliver Burke from Leipzig.

West Brom has possibly got its strongest squad in decades, and Pardew needs to get more out of it than Pulis.

Gary Megson, who took charge of the team on an interim basis following the departure of Pulis, has left the club, He guided West Brom to two draws, at Tottenham on Saturday and at home against Newcastle on Tuesday.

Finlay goal gives Minnesota win over former club Columbus (video)

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It had to be him.

As Columbus continues to search for itself under new management, it’s no surprise that one of its old heroes broke its heart on Saturday.

[ RECAP: Man City 6-0 Watford ]

Ethan Finlay, he of the 166 Crew appearances before being traded to Minnesota United, said earlier this week, “I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t want to beat up on them pretty bad.”

So of course Finlay scored a 70th minute tap-in to give his Loons a 1-0 win over Columbus on Saturday in St. Paul. It wasn’t “pretty bad,” but it probably felt pretty good.

The goal was Finlay’s first of the season for United, keeping the hosts unbeaten at home.

Columbus falls to 1-5 away from home under Caleb Porter, and has won just once in its last seven outings.

Brighton ready to pay release clause for Swans manager

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Brighton and Hove Albion is ready to bring one of England’s brightest managerial prospects into the Premier League.

The Seagulls are set to pay a $3 million release clause to lure Graham Potter away from Swansea City, one year after the manager left Swedish club Ostersunds FK.

[ RECAP: Man City 6-0 Watford ]

Potter was 35 when he was hired by the Swedish club in 2010, and helped Ostersunds to three promotions before moving to Wales in 2018.

Swans finished 10th this season, its first in the Championship after relegation from the Premier League.

Brighton regressed in a big way during the second half of this season, and remains in the top flight largely because Cardiff City was unable to take advantage of the Seagulls’ huge struggles.

The report says Swansea offered Potter a new deal to stay at the Liberty Stadium, but the manager wants to try the Premier League.

If he takes the job, Potter will manage against one of his former clubs; Potter played eight times for Southampton in the Premier League.

Pep: Domestic treble harder than winning Champions League

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Manchester City won its third tournament of the season on Saturday, battering Watford 6-0 at Wembley Stadium to add an FA Cup to its League Cup and Premier League titles.

[ RECAP: Man City 6-0 Watford ]

In doing so, City is the first club to win a domestic treble. Manager Pep Guardiola wants to win every competition he enters, but said winning all three is extra special.

“I love the Champions League but it is more difficult to do what we have done than to win the Champions League,” Guardiola said.

Wait, what?

From ManCity.com:

“It’s not easy being there every three days. We lacked a little bit of energy but it’s normal. It’s been so tough this week. We could not have had more energy but we kept it at the right time.”

Well, that makes sense. Whereas Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp risked less with his cup lineups, knowing his desire for the Premier League and Champions League, Guardiola’s lineups were aimed at winning everything.

And that’s largely why they’ve done it. City might’ve needed penalty kicks to beat Chelsea in the League Cup Final and a John Stones clearance to win the Premier League (or a Vincent Kompany thunderbolt), but the treble is impressive.

AC Milan boss Gattuso insists fifth “not a failure”

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For a solid four months, it appeared AC Milan was on track for a return to the Champions League for the first time in six years. Then, it all fell apart.

Still, manager Gennaro Gattuso is insisting their season is not a failure, adamant that a fifth-placed finish would not be considered a disappointment for the club. His reasoning will not be exactly endearing to fans.

“Fifth place absolutely wouldn’t be a failure, not because I want credit myself, plus what would Roma and Lazio say?” Gattuso said during his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s game against Frosinone. “There’s regret because for two months we’ve had our fate in our hands and we dropped so many points, but it’s not a failure.”

Milan was as high as third place in the Serie A table in mid-March and seemed close to wrapping up a return to Champions League play, but a stretch of one win in seven league matches saw them tumble down into the crowded battle below, with Atalanta, Roma, Torino, and Lazio all in a pack. AC Milan now sits sixth, and while they still remain in the mix for the fourth position, they would need to make up a three-point deficit in just two matches. Fifth-placed Roma drew today, so they can jump to fifth with a win against Frosinone.

Milan was a European powerhouse for decades until the club declined following its 2007 Champions League victory, ultimately falling out of the running for Europe’s top competition, with just a few Europa League appearances since 2014. Gattuso’s comparison to Lazio and Roma, two strong Italian clubs without Milan’s history, is bound to infuriate fans, along with his acceptance of the club’s shortcomings.

The late-season collapse has called Gattuso’s job security into question, but he said that will wait until the end of the season. “Both the club and I have put aside our small talk to reach our objective,” Gattuso said during the presser. “There will be time to talk about the future.”

“There are two games left and we’re still playing for our objective.”