West Brom boss Tony Pulis is prepared for three more weeks of speculation surrounding Saido Berahino after playing down the striker’s FA Cup goal celebration.
The 22-year-old’s future has been uncertain since handing in a transfer request at the start of the season amid several rejected bids from Tottenham and began the third-round tie against Bristol City on the bench for the 10th successive game.
Berahino was introduced after 63 minutes and took just four minutes to find the back of the net, curling a low shot off the greasy surface and into the bottom corner.
The striker celebrated by running over to the touchline to shake his manager’s hand but Pulis downplayed its significance after the 2-2 draw.
“Yes, I owe him some money,” he joked. “He was just grateful for taking a couple of quid off me because he’d scored. I’m pleased for Saido.”
Stoke are reported to be the latest club to express an interest in Berahino, who is now cup-tied after featuring in the 2-2 draw against the Robins on Saturday.
Pulis added: “We’ve got two or three weeks of speculation left to keep you journalists happy.”
It all looked rosy for West Brom when Berahino struck, but Bristol City turned the tie on its head with goals from Jonathan Kodjia and substitute Kieran Agard, who had barely been on the pitch a minute.
The Championship club seemed set for a famous victory but James Morrison netted in the fifth minute of injury time to spare the Baggies’ blushes and break City’s hearts.
“It’s tough on them but I thought between the two boxes we played some good football and got in some wonderful positions, but our quality in the final third was just lacking,” Pulis said.
“We got into some great crossing positions but we couldn’t deliver what we wanted, often hitting the first man. But then we have taken the chances that have dropped to us.
“I’m pleased that we kept going and the players are fantastic in that respect, they’re a fit group of lads. But we will certainly have to manage them now in that respect with the number of matches in the coming weeks.”
Bristol City boss Steve Cotterill was angry with referee Graham Scott after feeling the official played too much added time, allowing Morrision to score.
“Four minutes was held up on the board – time was up,” Cotterill said. “It was over.
“I know we are splitting hairs here but when you’re 2-1 up away from home against a Premier League team you need the referee to be right on it.
“Time was up and he knows it. He probably thinks they’ll get a cross in and a header or something will go over the bar then he can blow after the goal kick. But you don’t need to add any more. The bottom line is it’s time.
“It was a great performance from us but often you don’t get two opportunities against a Premier League team and I felt for our second-half performance we did deserve to win the game.
“That would have done wonders for our season in the second half of the Championship, it’s so disappointing. It was important for us.”
Pulis had a different view, saying: “He’s got to buy himself a new watch. That’s the best thing he can do.”