Saido Berahino can hardly deny his list of indiscretions but after capping a week of unwelcome headlines with a sixth goal in three matches to deliver West Bromwich Albion a potentially vital three points in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Hull City, the England Under-21 striker insisted he has been wrongly labelled as a problem player.
It was revealed last week that Berahino had reported late on matchdays three times this season; the story emerged on the day he was summonsed to appear before North Cheshire magistrates on a drink-driving charge.
Pundit Danny Murphy is the latest to question the 21-year-old’s temperament, linking his off-the-field problems with his unwillingness to celebrate his four FA Cup goals against Gateshead. “Might be an attitude problem there,” Murphy said on Saturday’s Match of the Day. “I hope not.”
But Berahino, who last year was filmed inhaling laughing gas at the wheel of his car outside a Birmingham nightclub, believes he is misjudged.
“The people who put me down, they don’t know me,” he said. “I’m pretty sure people who know me will know I’m not the person the media are trying to say that I am.
“Loads of players don’t celebrate when they score, but I’m always the one getting blamed and picked out.” With negotiations over a new contract on hold, there has been speculation about a January move to Liverpool or Tottenham and the arrival of disciplinarian Tony Pulis as manager appeared to make that more likely.
But Pulis, whose shortage of alternative goalscorers was highlighted when £10m striker Brown Ideye missed Saturday’s best chance, says he wants a new forward to play alongside 14-goal Berahino rather than to replace him.
“I’m not going to say we are not going to sell him because if a stupid offer comes in I would look stupid if I said that. But if we can get another striker in and keep Saido, that would make my day,” Pulis said.
Hull, back in the bottom three, may need a new striker too after Nikica Jelavic (knee) and Abel Hernandez (groin) were injured in the first half.
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