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West Brom were wrong to not cash-in for Jonny Evans in January

Josh Kerr

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Evans
Photo: Getty Images

West Brom may be ruing their decision to not cash in for Baggies captain Jonny Evans as the player looks destined to leave for a substantial loss following the Midland’s clubs relegation to the Championship.

The Baggies’ worst fears were confirmed on Tuesday night, after Southampton‘s 1-0 victory over Swansea made it impossible for Darren Moore’s side to avoid the drop.

Demotion means that players will leave in the summer window, in an attempt to secure a Premier League return, with some even having relegation clauses in their contracts.

The Baggies received interest in 30-year-old defender Jonny Evans in previous windows and the club’s recent drop to the Championship may leave them wishing they had cashed in when they had the chance.

Premier League champions Manchester City were known to be interested in the Northern Irishman and, according to Sky Sports, the Citizens had a bid in the region of £18 million rejected.

West Brom’s stance on the defender being unavailable was seen as admirable.

However, the fact that Evans has a £3 million relegation clause in his contract means the former Manchester United defender is likely to leave Moore’s side for next to nothing in the summer.

Adding further fuel to the fire, Evans was one of the players involved in an off-field incident that sparked controversy mid-season.

Evans was labelled as being among four of the West Brom players involved in the ‘taxi stealing’ incident during the Baggies’ training trip to Barcelona.

It reflects one of the many problems that have been experienced at the Midlands club this season.

With Evans being the captain of the club, it didn’t reflect the behaviour and maturity required during one of the most critical periods of the campaign.

With Evans entering the latter stages of his career, it seems he will still feel his talents are best suited to the Premier League.

With the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham and several others, interested in the Northern Ireland international, a departure seems the logical outcome.

It has been a disastrous season for the Baggies. Off-field incidents have been met with poor performances on the pitch.

A clear-out will definitely be in order at the Hawthorns and the club would’ve been hoping to cash-in big for established players such as Evans.

However, with the luck the club has had this season, they will have to accept another likely loss and move on.

I am a freelance sports journalist currently studying sports journalism at Staffordshire University with a passion for all things football. I'm a keen supporter of Liverpool Football Club, as well as my local side Forest Green Rovers. I've worked for online newspaper VAVEL UK as well as a media assistant for Chester FC in the Vanarama National League.

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Championship

Oliver Burke set to face Nottingham Forest next season, two years after big-money exit

The Scottish youngster has struggled since leaving Nottingham Forest for Germany in 2016.

Mathew Coull

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At the start of the 2016-17 season, hope was high at the City Ground that Nottingham Forest could string together an impressive campaign. But once again it was a struggle for the side, who ended up changing managers halfway through the season and surviving relegation to League One on the final day of the season. For many, one of the key reasons for their demise was the sale of Scottish attacker Oliver Burke.

He had started the season with a bang, scoring four goals in the opening seven games of the season. Unfortunately for Forest, that gained the attention of foreign threats. German big spenders RB Leipzig decided they wanted to bring Burke to the Bundesliga. According to the Daily Mail, the Scottish talent set Leipzig back £13 million that August, leaving the club just one day after netting a brace in a 4-3 win over Burton Albion.

It was clearly a move Burke had to make. Forest were lacking direction under Fawaz Al Hasawi and the chance to play in the Bundesliga was too good to turn down.

(Photo credit should read GUENTER SCHIFFMANN/AFP/Getty Images)

But the move now looks to have been a bad one as next season Burke will be playing against his former club in the Championship.

After one season and just five starts in the German top-flight, he and Leipzig decided a move away was for the best. West Brom decided to take a chance on the player, spending a fee reported by the Mirror to be £15 million for the pleasure.

It has not been a glorious return to English football for the Scotland international. Burke has managed to start just two Premier League games for the Baggies this season. He has spent most of his time on the bench and has yet to find the net for his new team. In fact, his only goal for the club came playing for their under-21s in the EFL Trophy in November.

(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

To compound a difficult two years since leaving Forest this season also saw Burke relegated. West Brom’s difficult campaign ended up with the Baggies dropping to the Championship for next season. Burke will now have to face off against the team he left two years ago with dreams of better things.  

But the upside is also clear. Hopefully, a drop back to the Championship can offer Burke the chance to rediscover his best form on a regular basis. A player once dubbed ‘Scotland’s Gareth Bale’ must ensure he does not waste his obvious talents in the years to come. Whilst Forest fans will hope he does not punish them at all in 2018-19, not many would begrudge him some future success in the game.

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English Premier League

Is it the end of the road for Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge?

The Englishman has made just two starts since January.

Josh Kerr

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Photo: Getty Images

There was a time where Daniel Sturridge was one of the most prolific goalscorers in the Premier League.

His partnership with Luis Suarez, during the 2013/14 campaign, which saw 55 goals scored between them in all competitions, was one of the greats of the Premier League era.

However, the 28-year-old is undoubtedly fading and, at the end of his disappointing West Brom loan spell, it is difficult to know what the future holds for the Englishman.

Sturridge joined the Baggies on deadline day of the January transfer window after only starting once for his parent club Liverpool.

The move would hope to increase his chances of making Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad as well as help to ensure the Premier League survival of a club close to home for the forward.

However, the move has gone horribly wrong for both parties since the start of the new year.

The move was initially described as a “coup” by recently sacked Baggies manager Alan Pardew, who won only one of his 18 Premier League fixtures.

(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Despite the incredible turn-around undergone by caretaker boss Darren Moore, the drop was inevitable for West Brom and the signing of Sturridge now looks to have been one of the season’s most disappointing pieces of businesses.

The Liverpool loanee will cost West Brom £4 million in wages and his initial loan fee by the end of the season – an extra painful expense that will have to be shouldered by the Baggies as they prepare for life in the Championship.

Sturridge has played no part in the club’s recent upturn in form. In the 1-0 win away at Newcastle United last weekend, the striker was an unused substitute with Hal Robson-Kanu preferred ahead of him, embodying a dramatic fall from grace for the former Chelsea striker.

The Englishman is now nobody’s first choice. His injury-proneness is at a point of parody and while his goals to game ratio is undeniable, it is undone by an inconvenient truth. The striker just isn’t worth the risk currently and with the best of his days undoubtedly behind him, it is hard to see a club taking a gamble on the forward.

He is also likely to become a record holder for all the wrong reasons. If Liverpool were to win the Champions League, with the demise of West Brom from the Premier League, he would become the first ever Champions League winner to be relegated that same season.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

His parent club are firing on all cylinders, scoring 130 goals in all competitions and heading into their first Champions League final in 11 years.

With the likes of Mohamed Salah, the PFA and Football Writers’ Player of the Year, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane all finding the back of the net for fun this season, it is difficult to see Sturridge winning back a first-team place.

A player on a £120,000-a-week pay packet is not one to warm the bench with.

The West Brom move clearly hasn’t worked out. However, a cut-price deal for Sturridge could appeal to a newly-promoted side looking to stay up or a mid-table side seeking greater attacking options.

It’s always sad to see one of the country’s most promising stars fade as dramatically as Sturridge has in recent years. However, with the right club, a season free from injuries may just yet see the dancing striker show glimpses of his former self.

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English Premier League

West Brom should appoint Darren Moore on a permanent basis

The 44-year-old has seen an instant reaction at West Brom since taking the reigns.

The Boot Room

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Darren Moore
Photo: Getty Images

You could probably count on one hand the amount of Premier League caretaker managers that get appointed on a permanent basis by Premier League clubs.

Alan Shearer, Eric Black, Terry Connor and Steve Agnew are amongst the names that perhaps rightly didn’t get a crack at full-time management, but there are names out there that have unfairly missed out.

Darren Moore at West Brom is one of the names that could fall into the latter category by the end of the season – he is currently contracted until then with no word yet about his future beyond that.

It is early days in Moore’s reign at the Baggies but they have looked impressive in his five games in charge.

The club requires a miracle to be safe from relegation this season, having to win their final two games and needing other results to go their way.

However, they have already won at Old Trafford, come back from 2-0 down at home to Liverpool to draw, picked up a big three points away at Newcastle, and grabbed a last minute winner at Wembley against Tottenham.

The Newcastle match was the biggest indicator of how far Moore and West Brom have come in a short space of time, with players fighting for each other and Ben Foster imperious in the Baggies’ goal to keep his second clean sheet of Moore’s tenure.

(Photo by Lindset Parnaby/Getty Images)

Players like Foster and James McClean have spoken about the influence of Moore both in the dressing room and out on the pitch, with McClean saying the players “knew what they were doing” against Manchester United and that they are all “pulling in the right direction”.

Perhaps that is an indicator of how disastrous Alan Pardew’s spell at the club was, but there is no doubt that West Brom are back playing at a solid level again following the ex-Newcastle and Palace man’s departure.

Of course, Moore would be a risky appointment, with no previous managerial experience, but before this spell as caretaker manager, he was first-team coach, as well as making over 100 appearances for Albion during his playing career, so knows the club inside and out.

But when you look at the recent records of Premier League clubs who have appointed more experienced managers post-relegation, it does not make for good reading.

This season, Middlesbrough sacked Garry Monk in December whilst Leonid Slutsky and Simon Grayson had both departed Hull and Sunderland by the end of November.

Last season, Roberto Di Matteo has his Aston Villa contract terminated after a 2-0 defeat at Preston in October.

Those that have held onto their managers post-relegation have generally had more success, with Rafael Benítez guiding Newcastle to the title last season.

Whereas Benítez most likely could have got any side firing in the second tier, there is some merit to the argument that being given time to assess the squad towards the back end of a relegation season before rebuilding is a good way to succeed.

Newcastle is probably the best example of an inexperienced coach taking a club back to the top flight, with Chris Hughton achieving that feat in 2010, in what was his first job in management.

(Photo credit should read LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)

He then went on to achieve relative success at Birmingham, guiding them into the play-offs in his only season in charge in 2011, before taking Brighton up to the Premier League six years later.

With Moore seemingly the only person that can motivate West Brom’s players, it seems a sensible decision to give him the job on a permanent basis to guide them back to the Premier League if the inevitable relegation is confirmed.

Another reason to potentially appoint Moore is the off-field turmoil that circles West Brom at the moment.

You would struggle to find any positives from Pardew’s reign, with the taxi debacle in Spain what it will be best remembered for.

Chairman John Williams was removed from his role in March, with technical director Nicky Hammond resigning shortly after.

There have been some poor transfer dealings, for instance the signing of relatively unknown Chinese striker Zhang Yuning, who has failed to make any impression on loan at Werder Bremen – they reportedly want to cut his two-year loan deal short – and having only scored twice at previous club Vitesse Arnhem.

Appointing Moore would maintain stability and ensure that a connection between the playing staff and the fans is created, something that may be crucial as West Brom look to bounce back to the top flight at the first time of asking.

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