Friday 18 January 2019

Evans gets chance to redeem himself as Pardew goes easy on 'Cab Four'

Evans could yet face criminal charges. Photo credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Evans could yet face criminal charges. Photo credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Jon Culley

Disgraced West Bromwich Albion captain Jonny Evans will be given every chance to redeem himself after head coach Alan Pardew stripped him of the armband for Saturday's tie against Southampton.

Evans, one of the quartet dubbed The Cab Four after allegedly stealing a taxi at the end of an all-night bar crawl on a team trip to Barcelona last week, could yet face criminal charges along with Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill following the incident, which is said to have taken place at around 5.30am last Thursday outside a 24-hour McDonald's takeaway in the Catalan capital.

The four will be subject to the club's own disciplinary procedures regardless of the outcome of an ongoing Spanish police investigation and can expect hefty club fines, but Albion are particularly anxious to avoid any fractured relationships, especially with Evans.

In addition to needing his leadership qualities if they are to have any chance of avoiding relegation from the Premier League, the club have an interest in maintaining his transfer value.

He is believed to have a clause in his contract that will trigger a cut-price exit if Albion go down, but should they survive they will be desperately keen to realise at least a sizeable percentage of their £25m valuation, having rejected bids from Manchester City, Leicester and Arsenal in the past two transfer windows.

With his contract due to run out next year, the next window is likely to be the last chance to cash in.

Pardew hinted strongly in the wake of Saturday's 2-1 FA Cup defeat by Southamption at the Hawthorns that his decision to hand the captaincy to veteran defender Gareth McAuley may have been only a slap on the wrists for Evans.

"Obviously I was furious with what happened but at the same time I've got to give the players the chance to remedy the situation," he said, before adding that he had been impressed in particular with the way Evans had responded.

"I thought Jonny was very good in the circumstances. I felt I needed to make a little bit of a statement about the events, which is why I made Gareth captain.

"As for future games I'll have to have a look at that this week and see how we go."

Meanwhile, the miscreant four found support from an unexpected source in Southampton head coach Mauricio Pellegrino, who believes allowing players occasionally to break some lifestyle "rules" - even by indulging in beer and Big Macs - is important to their wellbeing.

While not condoning any criminal behaviour, the former Liverpool player, who had a taste of Merseyside's after-hours culture after Rafa Benitez signed him from Valencia in 2005, said the players "have a right to enjoy themselves".

Southampton's victory, fashioned by goals from Wesley Hoedt and Dusan Tadic, countered by Salomon Rondon, in a repeat of their Premier League win on the same ground two weekends ago, earns them a quarter-final trip to Wigan or Manchester City, who meet tonight in a repeat of the 2013 final.

For Pardew, another defeat seemed almost incidental, but he knows the focus will quickly return to his future after mustering just one win in 13 Premier League matches since he took charge.

He is aware his job is on the line but believes he is the right man for the task ahead, despite the club's decision last week to fire the men who appointed him - chairman John Williams and chief executive Martin Goodman.

"I'm an experienced manager," he said. "I've got out of this situation before, at Newcastle and Crystal Palace, and I'm determined to get out of this one as well." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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