I thought I would chuck in my ten-penneth on the West Bromwich Albion “taxigate 4” incident in Spain that has embarrassed the players involved, the club and it’s fans. I was not there are confess I only know what I have read and from the official West Bromwich Albion Statements. I have not spoken to any of the players so have not heard their side of it yet. None of us are whiter than white and in our past have done things that we regret although I don’t suspect many have stolen a vehicle as a prank if that is true. If we had we would have been in court facing possible jail time. It is important to stress that it is only alleged that they took the taxi.
The club are standing on the Premier League relegation trapdoor 7 points from safety with just eleven games to go and that is even more reason for the players to keep their heads down and focus on getting out of trouble.
The Albion fans could be forgiven for thinking those players involved don’t care about the clubs relegation plight although I am sure that is not the case.
I know a couple of the players involved very well and have to say I was extremely surprised at hearing what had happened. Boaz Myhill and Gareth Barry are two of the nicest guys in the game and this incident is so out of character.
The Spanish Court has dropped the case because of lack of proof that they did steal the Taxi but they still face disciplinary action by the club over breaking a club curfew imposed by manager Alan Pardew. However what can the club do in reality in terms of punishing them when they need them for the crucial fight against relegation from the Premier League?
Yes they can hit them in the pocket with a fine of fine which is likely to be two weeks wages but let’s be honest that is no genuine hardship to these millionaire footballers. Its equivalent to a round of drinks to you or me.
Yes they can leave them out of the team but they still get paid anyway and then the only ones to be punished and suffer in reality, are the club and its supporters.
Yes the club could put them on the transfer list! But if the club get relegated they would in all likelihood want to move anyway to stay in the Premier League or the club would want to sell them so again no real punishment or hardship.
What makes it worse and even more surprising is that they are the senior players at the club with all four having represented their countries.
I have been amazed at the reaction from some in the game such as former Wimbledon and Wales’s midfielder now turned actor Vinnie Jones who thought it was brilliant that they should steal a taxi and drive off. Those of a generation who remember that Wimbledon side will not be surprised at his moronic comment.
Other ex-players in the game somewhat begrudgingly say it was wrong but point to other incidents from the past or claim to have done worse as if that makes it all OK .
I agree that incidents on tour have always occurred with many clubs but have usually involved setting off fire extinguishers or other childish pranks. They are certainly not the first and most certainly won’t be the last to break a club curfew either as lots have done that to sneak off for a few more drinks in a bar.
In my view the difference in this incident was driving off in a taxi if that is proven to be what happened although I hear the players involved do not agree that this is exactly what happened.
Let’s be clear about it that this, if it happened as we have been led to believe, is not just an immature prank but a very dangerous one as we all know the perils of driving when you have been drinking. Also taking a car/taxi without the owner’s permission is also a criminal act. So you can see how this incident is very different and serious to any other pranks done by footballers abroad.
It is good to see that the four players involved Boaz Myhill, Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Jonny Evans are remorseful and have apologised and it looks like it may have been a one off and a massive error of judgement by them.
However I feel that may not be enough for many Baggies fans who have adored, cheered and paid hard earned money to watch these players’ week in and week out. The fans will be wanting to see them battle like crazy and give nothing less than 100% to provide the greatest of escapes however unlikely that looks at the moment to those on the terraces.
These are four very good experienced players who will be needed for the fight ahead. At their best they can make a difference so it is down to them to be just that over the coming crucial eleven games.
In my opinion what will not help the clubs fight against the drop is booing or jeering these four players before or during any of the eleven games remaining this season. They will be nervous enough and will need the fans help if they are to provide the performances and points required to climb away from relegation between now and the end of the season.
For those fans who already believe the club are down just look at the amazing, fantastic result in the FA Cup that saw League One team Wigan beat Premier League leaders Manchester City. Proving that nothing is impossible, no hurdle to big, no mountain to high, what you need is belief, commitment, desire, passion, which aligned with ability can achieve anything.