Football: Rioch made to pay for his good advice

That Was The Weekend That Was
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The Independent Online
CO-OPERATION AMONG managers is all well and good, but Bruce Rioch had immediate cause for regretting one bit of advice dispensed to the West Bromwich Albion manager, Denis Smith, after Norwich crashed to a 2-0 defeat at The Hawthorns on Saturday.

Both goals came from the Dutch striker Fabian de Freitas - signed by Smith on the Norwich manager's recommendation after spending a season under Rioch at Bolton.

The 26-year-old, making his first appearance for Albion in the First Division, came off the bench after 59 minutes and had put Smith's side ahead within 60 seconds before adding the second goal 13 minutes later, sending Norwich to their first league loss of the season. "Fabian certainly paid Bruce back well for his recommendation," Smith said. "When I was considering making a move for him I contacted Bruce and he told me I would be foolish not to take him on the books."

Smith snapped up De Freitas on a free transfer from the Spanish club Osasuna as one of several interesting summer signings that could turn his team into Premiership contenders. He also recruited two Italians, Mario Bortolazzi and Enzo Maresca.

After taking 10 points from their opening four matches, Albion fans are beginning to wonder if the notion of a return to the top flight is gaining credibility, after 12 years in the wilderness.