Wally of the Week

Premier League football was back with a bang last weekend after a drab international break trying to hype up the England football team. One manager eventually succumbed to the axe as his team plummets towards relegation while another boss could take two teams down in one campaign. A referee completes the list after ignoring one of the most concrete football rules and the clue’s in the name of the sport.

3. Mark Hughes

The Welsh manager, now in charge of struggling, toothless Southampton, could be taking two teams down in one season. The Saints sit one place and one point above Hughes’s former team Stoke in the Premier League table with both currently occupying relegation spots. This week, Hughes took his Southampton side to a club verging on anarchy at the London Stadium but were well-beaten by David Moyes’s West Ham.

Two goals from Marko Arnautovic, who played under Hughes at Stoke, added insult to injury for Hughes. During their time at the Potters, Arnautovic and Hughes’s relationship ended extremely bitterly and the Austrian winger was sold to West Ham last summer. After scoring the Irons’ second, Arnautovic made his feelings known to the Southampton boss with various gestures and hurling insults at him from across the pitch. Southampton’s poor showing leaves their fans with even less hope of surviving before Hughes took over last month and they could be going down alongside his former club.

2. Neil Swarbrick

There are only two people that are allowed to use their hands during a football match; the goalkeeper and, if he’s playing, Diego Maradona. So, when Sadio Mane decided that he wanted to grab onto the ball on the edge of his own area to take it away from two Crystal Palace players, everyone inside Selhurst Park was expecting referee Neil Swarbrick to give him his second yellow card. Mane had been booked earlier in the game after diving in the opposing penalty area and, this time, Swarbrick made the right decision.

Mane then brought Liverpool level after half-time after Luka Milivojevic’s early penalty. With Palace trying to regain the lead, Mane went down on the edge of his own area under the challenge of two Palace players but the whistle didn’t go and Mane grabbed the ball into his grasp, leading to Swarbrick giving a free-kick against him, so far so good for the referee. However, the stonewall yellow card for deliberate handball that should’ve followed never came, much to the bemusement of all involved and the visitors, still with 11 players on the pitch, snatched a late winner.

1. Alan Pardew

Time is finally up for Alan Pardew at West Brom. It’s been a calamitous spell in charge, taking the club from 17th place in November to rock bottom and 10 points from safety in April. Pardew won just one Premier League game during his reign, a 2-0 home win against the mighty Brighton, and leaves with a win percentage of just 5.5% in the league. An eighth defeat in a row against Burnley on Saturday was the final straw for the West Brom board and Pardew was sacked on Monday morning.

When he was first appointed, the former Crystal Palace, Newcastle and West Ham manager promised free-flowing, attacking football and that’s exactly what the Baggies fans got to watch as the opposition ripped through their side week-in-week-out. Pardew also oversaw that mid-season trip to Barcelona where four of his players broke curfew and stole a taxi after a night out in the city. The lack of trust and understanding between manager and players was there for all to see while cracks began to appear in the dressing room. Reports of a bust-up with Christ Brunt surfaced where Brunt reportedly questioned Pardew’s tactics after a loss against Huddersfield. After being linked with the England job not too long ago, it seems impossible that Pardew can be entrusted with a Premier League job again. His demise will have been enjoyed by many and West Brom will be regretting sacking relegation-immune Tony Pulis for sure. Wally of the Week won’t be the same without you, Alan.