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Pardew ‘furious’ after four WBA players steal taxi in Spain

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At least when you’re bottom of the Premier League table and appear headed for relegation, as West Bromwich Albion now find themselves, you can take the positive approach that “the only way to go from here is up.”

[ FA CUP: Man United advance, drawn against PL opposition in QF ]

Alternatively, four of your most senior players — Jonny Evans, Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill, in this case — might have other ideas and elect to steal a cab during a late-season training camp in Barcelona. That’s the current state of affairs for the Baggies and manager Alan Pardew, who openly admits he was “furious” and felt “let down” — quotes from the Guardian:

“This is obviously not ideal. They broke the curfew and that’s unacceptable and I feel a bit let down by that.”

“It’s difficult for managers. Obviously, I was furious with what happened but at the same time I’ve got to stay faithful to the players and give them a chance to remedy the situation.”

The night’s timeline reads something like this: the quartet wanted to go out in the city center, but everything was closed late at night; they got a taxi to a McDonald’s by the Barcelona port; the driver left the car, at which point the players decided to drive back to the team hotel around 5:30 a.m.; the care was returned to the cab driver around 8 a.m.

Evans was stripped of his captaincy for Saturday’s FA Cup fifth-round defeat to Southampton. The players have since released the following statement through the club’s website:

“We felt it important we identify ourselves as the players involved in an incident which occurred during the training camp in Spain this week out of respect for team-mates who otherwise could be implicated by association. We freely acknowledge and apologize for the break of curfew which we accept represented a breach of the standards of professionalism required of us as representatives of West Bromwich Albion.

“The club has informed us that it will now conduct its own inquiry into the incident and we will cooperate fully. In the meantime, we would like to assure our supporters that this incident does not reflect the determination and resolve we possess to do all we can to recover a difficult season.”

With 11 games left to play, West Brom currently sit seven points adrift of safety; Pardew’s position grows more and more tenuous with each point dropped; and three of their final 11 games are against Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

Evans, Barry, two others release apology for incident in Spain

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The quartet of West Brom players accused of stealing a taxi while breaking curfew in Spain has apologized to its team, fans, and bosses.

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Club captain (!!) Jonny Evans of Northern Ireland, backup goalkeeper Boaz Myhill (Wales) and English midfielders Jake Livermore and Gareth Barry are the players in question, and they released a statement on West Brom’s web site.

Saying they needed to claim responsibility for the incident so speculation could stop over which four players were in trouble, the four said (from wba.co.uk):

We freely acknowledge and apologise for the break of curfew which we accept represented a breach of the standards of professionalism required of us as representatives of West Bromwich Albion FC.

The Club has informed us that it will now conduct its own inquiry into the incident and we will co-operate fully.

In the meantime, we would like to assure our supporters that this incident does not reflect the determination and resolve we possess to do all we can to recover a difficult season.

It’s an incredibly stupid standard, especially considering not one of the four is a young buck, but it’s also not an indictment on their focus in the relegation race. The Spanish camp is a break for the players to come together; These four just chose to do something illegal (allegedly).

Players to watch in the final week of the window

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With all due credit to the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saga, which has replaced the Alexis-Mkhitaryan saga as the saga du semaine in the Premier League, there are other players potentially on the move this week.

Here’s who we think you should keep an eye on as January moves to its conclusion.

[ PL PLAYBACK: On trade deals, and more ]

1) The list should arguably start and end with Jonny Evans, in that whether or not he moves could lay out how much else his current and prospective new club will do in the remainder of the window.

Evans is the sort of player — with respect to Papiss Cisse — that every club needs, and also brings the experience of knowing it could be better and worse from his time winning PL titles at Manchester United and, well, not winning them at West Brom and on loan to Sunderland. He’s 30, not old for a center back, and he’ll be worth every penny.

2) Thinking of Andre Schurrle‘s time at Chelsea has us daydreaming about a similar Chelsea outcast turned reborn Bundesliga star in Kevin De Bruyne (though certainly few are betting on the German to become a Ballon d’Or finalist under Alan Pardew, Rafa Benitez, or Mauricio Pochettino) What’s neat about his case is that his loan move from Borussia Dortmund — and the German club’s potential to pay half the wages if not more — would allow a club who wouldn’t normally get a player of his class to dream a bit. Then again, it could be a bit of “Jese with PL experience.”

3) Aleksandar Mitrovic‘s wild nature has caused his status to shrink deep into the recesses of Rafa Benitez’s mind, which is a shame because Newcastle really could use him, and he could be a breakout forward at the World Cup this summer. Maybe West Brom needs to trade Salomon Rondon for “Mitro” straight up so two baffling PL strike cases can get fresh starts. Or maybe…

4 and 5) David Moyes should call up Newcastle United and offer reported Chelsea target Andy Carroll or reported everyone else target Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is a like-for-like swap. Trade deals, after all, are the new norm, yes?

West Brom: Evans relegation release reportedly just $4M

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Jonny Evans has been fantastic for West Bromwich Albion this season, shepherding the Baggies back line while being involved in as many goals as any player not named Salomon Rondon or Jay Rodriguez.

[ MORE: High profile loan for Palace ]

So it would make sense for West Brom to hang onto the player at almost all costs given its status as a team in danger of the drop after its slow start under Tony Pulis has kept its lackluster pace under Alan Pardew.

Here’s the rub: Some big clubs would like to purchase Evans, who has 18 months left on his deal but reportedly no interest in signing a new deal the Hawthorns. Even worse? Monday’s story that a Baggies’ relegation would make his buyout clause just over $4 million.

Defenders who cost more last summer on the Premier League market include Jan Bednarek, Nathan Ake, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Michael Keane, Florian Lejeune, Mathias Jorgensen, Andrew Robertson, Bruno Martins Indi, and many others.

Heck, Evans’ buyout clause is the same price Derby County paid Liverpool for Andre Wisdom. And these fees are all pre-Virgil Van Dijk to Liverpool madness.

Considering only Swansea and Brighton have scored fewer league goals than the Baggies, who are just now committing to a two-striker approach under Pardew, does it make sense for West Brom to sell now?

Evans’ value at 18 months out will be more than it is at 12 months out even if the Baggies avoid relegation, but he’s possibly a lynch pin of the team. And the volatile value for attackers mean the $25-35 million he’d generate may not make for like-for-like value.

It’s not an easy decision, but desperate times call for similar measures. The Baggies have played in four nil-nils this season, and lost 1-0 to relegation rivals Southampton and Huddersfield Town away. Both of the reverse fixtures remain.

There are creative options here, too. Would Jurgen Klopp sanction a high(ish) profile attacker loan to WBA in order to pair Evans with Van Dijk? Same for Pep Guardiola at Man City?

West Brom 2-0 Brighton: A win at long last!

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  • First WBA win in 21 PL matches
  • Pardew’s first WBA PL win, too
  • Baggies strike twice off corners
  • Gulls one PL win in last 12

Jonny Evans and Craig Dawson gave West Bromwich Albion its first Premier League win in ages, a 2-0 defeat of visiting Brighton and Hove Albion at the Hawthorns on Saturday.

The win is the Baggies’ first in league play since August, and its second-straight win after an FA Cup defeat of Exeter City last weekend.

West Brom is 19th with 19 points, while Brighton is 15th with 23 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Evans put West Brom on the right track — and added a few dollars to the Baggies’ asking price — when he headed in off an early corner.

It could have been 2-0. Matty Phillips effort into the box was blocked by the arm of Glenn Murray, but it was not deemed penalty-worthy.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Jay Rodriguez had an early second half shot blocked inside the six as the Baggies sought a second. He’d then drag a shot wide of goal in the 51st.

Dawson gave West Brom its second in the 55th off yet another set piece, a corner driven to the penalty spot and headed off the ground with violence.

Murray set Anthony Knockaert up for a left-footer that tore over the goal.