I hold my hands up – I got it wrong predicting that with a run of 5 games against fellow relegation rivals West Brom would get out of trouble. I even said it was worth a bet at 9-4 to avoid the drop. I never was a great tipster. Today they look doomed and the many experienced “old hands” in their ranks, who I had banked on having the nous to help keep the Baggies up, went missing and now look like has-beens. It is hard to believe that Jonny Evans was being touted for a £50million pounds move to Manchester City not long ago. After his taxi shenanigans in that mid-season break to Barcelona his reputation has collapsed, as have those of the three others involved – Boaz Myhill, Jake Livermore and Gareth Barry. It is amazing to me that Livermore could still get on the plane to Russia this summer.
The thought that this fateful four would do such a thing after breaking a club curfew was incredible. One of the Twitter jokes going around was that they had stolen as many taxis as West Brom had won Premier League games under Alan Pardew. The manager’s authority was undermined on that night and – whatever the rumours about his relationship with the players – it was effectively the beginning of the end in their fight to stay up.
But here is my big point. Pardew’s sacking has surely proved that you sack Tony Pulis at your peril. You never sack a manager who has never been relegated do you? Certainly not when you are in trouble at the foot of the Premier League table and there are millions of pounds at stake. There were West Brom fans baying for his dismissal on the grounds that he instilled boring, defensive football. No supporter minds a bit of that while they stay in the big league surely. A case of Baggies fans not being careful what they wish for.
The current Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson is renowned in football as one of the most loyal and supportive chairmen. Ask Steve McClaren or current England manager Gareth Southgate. But even if he was tempted to revisit his decision to appoint the Welshman as his new manager, surely he will remember the message I will leave you – you don’t sack Tony Pulis. Alan Pardew has made sure Pulis has a job for life!