West Bromwich Albion stalwart Chris Brunt has sensationally lashed out at manager Alan Pardew over his use of former Neighbours actor Jason Donovan as a motivational tool, in an “explosive” interview with the Daily Star. While deadlocked with Huddersfield at half time (in a match which the bottom club must surely have been targeting as eminently winnable and went on to lose 2-1) Brunt and his teammates were treated to a short but intimate acoustic set from the one-time pop star and his touring guitarist, featuring hits such as ‘Rhythm of the Rain’, ‘Every Day (I Love You More)’ and ‘Too Many Broken Hearts’, in a bid to lift their spirits and get them fired up for the second period.
“I wouldn’t normally go public with criticism of any gaffer” the Northern Irishman explained, “but there are certain things going on at this club that I’m not happy about. I know Alan had the best of intentions in bringing Jason in, and it was good of him to do it at such short notice. The idea was to get us into a better frame of mind so we’d come out pumped and focused in the second half. But I really don’t think it was a good idea and, to be fair, it completely backfired. In the middle of the last song, Salomón [Rondon, West Brom striker] shouts at Donovan, ‘Shut your noise, you fucking old cunt!’ – which, to be fair, Jason handled very professionally. Anyway, the gaffer’s giving Sal the evil eye, and the boys are all trying not to laugh. It just unsettled us even more, and you saw that in the second half performance. To be honest, I think Alan would have been better off concentrating on getting the tactics right and giving us a more conventional team talk at half time.”
When contacted by this blog for comment, Pardew played down the incident, insisting that it has been “blown out of all proportion” and reminding fans that he used Stefan Dennis very effectively while leading Newcastle United to a top six finish. “And anyway” he added impatiently, before hanging up the phone, “when you’re the king, you can do what you want.”