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The Fiver | West Brom, Slaven Bilic and the Jurassic Football insignia | Football


BEING HELD BY MANCHESTER CITY PROVED THE LAST STRAW

When you’re expecting a kick in the swingers and you get punched in the face instead, it could be argued you’ve had a decent result. But when you’re expecting a clap on the back for a job well done only to get handed your P45, then you could be forgiven for feeling decidedly aggrieved. A penny, then, for the thoughts of Slaven Bilic, who has been sacked despite masterminding West Brom’s promotion to the Premier League and, most recently, a highly commendable draw at Manchester City. A good result by any standards, it wasn’t enough to keep Bilic in his job and he’s now become the first top-flight manager this season ushered unceremoniously through the door marked ‘Do One!’

“West Bromwich Albion have today parted company with head coach Slaven Bilic,” announced the club in a terse statement. “The Baggies are currently 19th in the Premier League table with seven points from 13 fixtures. Albion would like to thank Slaven and his coaching staff for their efforts in achieving promotion last season and wishes them all well in the future.” While fairly brutal in tone, one can’t help but feel Bilic will be only too happy to leave with his contract paid up as he seemed decidedly miserable with his lot at the Hawthorns in recent months.

Looking more ashen-faced and disgruntled than he does even at the best of times, everyone’s favourite curmudgeonly Croatian has had the look about him of a man who deserves much better. A club whose overlords don’t sell players against his wishes, perhaps. And one that gives him more than tuppence ha’penny and a handful of beans to spend on helping fulfil the second part of his brief after he’s successfully achieved the first by winning promotion.

And what of West Brom? What do they deserve? The Fiver isn’t quite sure but it looks as if they might be about to get it. Showing the kind of stunning lack of imagination that has seen them boing-boing between the Premier League and Championship in recent times, they appear to have illuminated the Jurassic Football insignia in the night sky over the Hawthorns and the early indications are that it is about to be answered. Yes, just 31 years after beginning his fledgling management career as reserve-team player coach at West Brom, it looks like Sam Allardyce is finally going to get a long overdue promotion.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!

Join Barry Glendenning from 6pm GMT for hot MBM coverage of Arsenal 2-2 Southampton in the Premier League, before Rob Smyth guides you through Liverpool 2-2 Tottenham at 8pm.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“It’s disgusting, to be honest. What was a really good night for us on the pitch was overshadowed by a real small minority that decide to boo in a moment when we’re reflecting the values that everyone at our club believes in. Inequality, racism, all these things that need kicking out of society” – Cambridge United manager Mark Bonner hits out at the behaviour of fans who booed as the players took a knee before his side’s League Two win over Colchester.

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The latest Football Weekly special focuses on dementia in the game and is well worth your time.

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FIVER LETTERS

“I recently discovered that one of my heroes and ex-Bournemouth striker Paul Moulden now runs a successful chippy in Bolton. As I was in the vicinity on Saturday I decided to pay a visit and was pleasantly surprised to see Paul serving. He struck up a conversation as he noticed my club face mask. We had a chat and I was able to tell him he scored one of my favourite goals against Newcastle back in the day. He gave me my order free of charge and was generally a top man. I though this might be worth at least sharing with your readers as a heart-warming festive vignette, particularly as I have quickly run out of friends to share the story with” – Paul Sheppard.

Yesterday’s Quote of the Day and accompanying archived match report made me nostalgic, not for that particular Manchester United team, nor even for the estimable Shaun Goater, but for Danny Tiatto, a player so comically aggressive that he wasn’t so much dogged by ill-discipline but jackalled, hyaenaed, dingoed and wolved by it. He really was ‘that kind of player’ if anyone ever was. I imagine his highlights reel is 30 or so eight-second clips of him stomping towards various dressing rooms with steam coming out of his ears” – Jon Millard.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day prize is … Paul Sheppard.

RECOMMENDED SHOPPING

Available at our print shop now, Tom Jenkins’s pictures of the past decade. There’s also this Gazza picture, one of Pelé and a Kenny Dalglish one too.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Rule-making body, Ifab, has approved two trials of concussion substitutes that will come into effect from next month.

EFL suits insist Sunderland had the option to postpone their League One draw with Wimbledon after the squad was struck by Covid-19, leaving them without eight players. “That game should have been called off, no doubt,” said manager Lee Johnson. “I can’t help but feel angry, frustrated. At the moment, I am not sure who I am angry at.”

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is feeling funky after their second defeat in four days, this time a 2-1 reverse at Wolves. “We should have seen the game out,” he tooted. “This is the Premier League. If you don’t perform, you lose games.”





Pedro Neto after his injury-time winner.



Pedro Neto after his injury-time winner. Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock

Newcastle boss Bernard Cribbins has been delving into his bucket of faint praise to drizzle on the squad. “They might not be breathtaking on the eye but they grasp what Newcastle is,” he parped. “At certain times they might lack a little bit of quality but you can’t knock them.”

A 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest means Tony Pulis has now overseen the worst eight-game start by any manager in Sheffield Wednesday history. “I can’t fault the effort, the commitment of the players, but it’s not enough,” he sighed.

And Northampton academy player Jack Maltby-Smith, 12, has helped raise more than £5,000 to feed 300 local families after being inspired by Marcus Rashford. “It makes me a bit emotional, to be honest,” he said. “I just feel so proud.”

STILL WANT MORE?

Barney Ronay looks ahead to Liverpool v Tottenham, a potentially titanic battle of the top two but one where, and somewhat disappointingly, Jürg and José actually seem to like each other.

Connor Roberts, the Swansea defender, tells Ben Fisher of a passion for carpentry that has seen him build dining tables, desks, dog bowls, birdhouses and wine caddies.





Footwear to make The Fiver blush.



Footwear to make The Fiver blush. Photograph: Connor Roberts

Have boots, will travel. Scott Parker, Peter Crouch, Kei Kamara and of course John Burridge. Plus 4-4 draws in this week’s Knowledge.

Alejandro Pozuelo, Darlington Nagbe, Philadelphia Union and Columbus Crew feature in this year’s MLS end-of-season awards.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!





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