‘God teaches us to forgive’: Alan Pardew reinstates Jonny Evans as captain

Stuart James on 22 February 2018

Alan Pardew has reinstated Jonny Evans as the West Bromwich Albion captain in the wake of the taxi scandal in Barcelona, with the manager pointing out “God teaches us to forgive” after confirming the disciplinary process against the four players involved in a “crazy incident” has finished.

It is understood Evans, Gareth Barry, Boaz Myhill and Jake Livermore have been fined the maximum two weeks’ wages – the best part of £500,000 collectively – after they broke a midnight curfew during a team-bonding trip to Spain and became embroiled in a serious incident. It is alleged the quartet stole a taxi in the early hours, after going to a fast-food restaurant, and parked the vehicle outside their city-centre hotel.

Pardew remains angry about what happened but also insisted the “guys have apologised more than enough” and rejected the argument he was sending out a dangerous message by giving the captaincy back to Evans only a week after it was taken off the defender for the FA Cup tie against Southampton.

“He’s paid a heavy price for that. Trust me,” Pardew said, when pressed on Evans’s conduct in Barcelona. “It’s like all things in life, if you make a mistake does that mean you are going to have to pay for it for the rest of your life? I don’t think so. I think God teaches us to forgive. On this occasion I wouldn’t say he’s been forgiven. But he’s paid a price and he’s still paying a price with you guys [the media], so he’ll learn that that was an event he deeply regrets as he lives on.

“The most important thing from Jonny’s perspective was his performance last Saturday. That was a very difficult game for him and Barry. He showed real character to come through that, and so he should. This weekend he needs to prove to me, the fans, and the club he’s the right man to lead us.”

With West Brom marooned at the bottom, seven points adrift of safety, the incident in Barcelona was the last thing Pardew needed It has put his own position under increased scrutiny, especially as he has presided over only one win from his 13 league games in charge.

Describing the past week as “rough” and one of his toughest as a manager, Pardew acknowledged the fallout from the taxi episode has “magnified our situation” on the pitch.

Asked whether the four players involved have apologised to the squad, Pardew replied: “Trust me, the guys have apologised more than enough. They really have. And in the right way as well, in terms of to me, to the staff, to the club, and now it’s about us showing some kind of backing to them. We have to say: ‘OK, you made a major error, come on guys, let’s get on with it.’ And that’s where I am with it.”

Pardew expects a positive atmosphere against Huddersfield at the Hawthorns on Saturday in what feels like a must-win game for West Brom, yet he also accepts his players need to repay the supporters’ faith as they seek to turn around a season that has badly unravelled on and off the pitch.

“We only really have three scenarios in front of us,” Pardew said. “Either we perform the great escape, we go down with a fight and dignity, or we go down with a whimper. I certainly hope it’s not the last one.”

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