West Brom boss Alan Pardew condemns Gareth Barry, Jonny Evans, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill

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Another defeat for West Brom could be costly for them and manager Alan Pardew.

West Brom boss Alan Pardew has condemned the “unacceptable” behaviour of captain Jonny Evans and the three other senior players who embarrassed the club on a break in Spain.

Evans, Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill identified themselves as the quartet whose behaviour in Barcelona had led to their club promising disciplinary action.

Head coach Pardew refused to comment on reports that the four players were involved in an incident involving a taxi, but it was widely reported they were being investigated over allegedly taking the vehicle without permission at the end of a night out.

Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported the quartet had food at a McDonald’s restaurant before leaving at 5.30am on Thursday morning and taking the taxi in which they had travelled to find food, driving it to their hotel. The newspaper said the players gave a statement to police but were not arrested.

West Brom are picking over the details of the incident, but Pardew was furious that the senior players had all broken a club curfew.

What was intended as a morale-boosting training trip instead became a debacle that was the last thing Pardew, whose side sit bottom of the Premier League, would have wanted.

The players said in a joint statement: “We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to our team-mates, the head coach, the club and especially the supporters for the events which have been the subject of widespread and negative publicity.

“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 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 players said they would “co-operate fully” with West Brom’s investigation. It remains to be seen whether they feature on Saturday in the fifth-round FA Cup clash with Southampton at the Hawthorns, and what reaction they receive from supporters should they be involved.

Barry holds the record for the most Premier League appearances by any player, while former Manchester United defender Evans leads the team, Livermore is a current England player and Myhill is a highly-experienced goalkeeper.

Pardew said of the incident: “They break a curfew, and that is unacceptable, and I feel a bit let down by that.”

He added: “We have 11 games left and we are in the last 16 of the FA Cup, and our fans will want to see us put in a performance (on Saturday).”

West Brom earlier this week sacked chairman John Williams and chief executive Martin Goodman.

Asked if he was confident his position was safe, Pardew – appointed in November – said: “I think (with) all these situations, you can’t be certain of your job, you just have to try to do your job, and that is what I will do.”

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Antonio Conte admits he has a selection dilemma ahead of Barcelona clash

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Antonio Conte (right)

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte revealed his team’s convincing performance in their 4-0 defeat of Hull has given him a selection dilemma for Tuesday’s Champions League tie with Barcelona.

The manager had rotated his team for the FA Cup fifth-round visit of the Championship Tigers and ahead of their fixtures with Barca, Manchester United and Manchester City, and then saw several fringe players impress.

Two goals from Willian and further finishes from Pedro and Olivier Giroud, the latter his first for the club since his arrival from Arsenal, essentially secured victory by half-time, and came in the absence of Eden Hazard, Andreas Christensen, Thibaut Courtois and N’Golo Kante.

Alvaro Morata is another the 48-year-old Conte may previously have considered a likely starter for the last-16 first-leg visit of Barca and, asked about his team’s performance, he said: “I’m very happy. Before an important game, against Barcelona, I go to my house with many doubts in my mind.

“‘Which is the best starting XI to start the game against Barcelona?’ But it’s right to be so. We must take the right time to make the best decision to pick the best XI to start that game.

“We started with great concentration and determination. We must be pleased, especially because we are in the (quarter-finals) in this competition. The first half was impressive because we scored four goals. The game was very compact.

“In the second half we tried to manage the game. In England that’s very difficult, because anything can happen.”

Their performance and victory represented further signs of improvement following Monday’s 3-0 defeat of West Brom that had come after successive losses to Watford and Bournemouth, leading to growing speculation surrounding Conte’s position.

At the end of a successful week there is far less tension around his team and the Italian added: “The last two wins were very important for us and our confidence. To win in the league, and then the FA Cup, was very important for our confidence, and to prepare in the right way for Barcelona.

“To play against Barcelona is a great challenge for us. This type of game must give us great enthusiasm. We must be excited to play, especially against this team.

“I consider Barcelona one of the best teams in the world. You have to try and compete with them at this level. It won’t be easy, for sure, but we must have the right confidence and then we’ll see what happens.”

Hull’s focus is now on the fight against a second successive relegation and manager Nigel Adkins said: “We’ve come with a game plan and within a couple of minutes it goes out of the window.

“We gifted them the opportunities to score some goals in the first half. But, wow, they’ve got some good players and counter-attack so quickly.

“We gave the ball away far too cheaply and allowed class players to hurt us big time.”

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Jose Mourinho angrily hits back at Paul Pogba fall-out rumours

Simon Peach 17/02/2018
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Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho angrily dismissed “lies” and “b******t” about his relationship with Paul Pogba – but the Manchester United manager does want more from his midfielder, starting in the FA Cup at Huddersfield.

The build-up to Saturday’s fifth-round clash in West Yorkshire has focused around the 24-year-old as reports had suggested he was irritated at playing so deep, and was even regretting re-joining United.

Mourinho was also reported to be annoyed by Pogba’s inability to function in a two-man midfield, but all that talk has been dismissed out of hand by the United boss.

“I think you are nice with your words because when you say ‘a lot of speculation’ (regarding Pogba) you should say a lot of lies,” the Portuguese said.

“Because I accept, and I can speak on Paul’s behalf without any kind of problem, Paul accepts that he has not been playing well in the last few matches. But that’s all.

“And if you want to speak about it, then that’s one thing and then your word ‘speculation’ maybe makes a little bit of sense, but the majority of things you can read and listen, don’t be nice, be objective and say (it’s) lies.

“I don’t have to speak with you about my conversations with my players. I don’t have to tell you anything about it.

“It is my problem, it is the player’s problem. A big lie that our relationship is not good, a big lie that we don’t communicate, a big lie that we don’t agree with his positions and his involvement in the dynamic of the team.

“So, be objective and say what we all know: in the last couple of matches he didn’t play well. Period. End of story.

“Now, it’s my problem and Paul’s problem to deal with it and try to improve his performance level. You don’t need to be a liar.”

Mourinho confirmed Pogba will start at Huddersfield in an intense press conference previewing the fifth-round clash.

Criticism and scrutiny from pundits has clearly got under the United manager’s skin – “I would like them to tell me which position Pogba played in against Newcastle” – and threw questions to reporters in the room.

Mourinho clarified that Pogba’s preferred formation is 4-3-3 and playing as an “eight on the left”, before urging the media to explain the game and not talk “b******t”.

“He was out for a long, long time and in this moment, he is not playing well,” the United boss said, referring to Pogba’s hamstring injury. “Period.

“And the team needs him at a good level and when he is not a good level the team is not as good as when he plays phenomenal.

“I think it happens with every team when the best players, the most crucial players for some reason are not performing. Period.”

Eric Bailly is in line to return at Huddersfield after a three-month absence with an ankle injury, but Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford will miss out with unspecified muscle complaints.

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