When Alan Navarro joined Albion on a free transfer back in 2009, he didn't exactly set the world on fire. In fact, during that first season, my TSLRite season ticket holding neighbour at our Theatre of Trees would regularly call him 'Fat Nav'. My neighbour was fatter (and still is in his role as my neighbour at Falmer) but it seemed an appropriate moniker for an Albion player who was slightly plumper than others (not quite in the league of Kevin McLeod, we must admit) and certainly one who struggled for mobility to begin with.
This season, Navs has been excellent - and especially for a player who missed the majority of last season's title winning campaign after his horrific injury at the home of Albion gloom and doom, Northampton Town. He has been so good this year that - had TSLR awarded a player of the season (we didn't as TSLR Towers is running out of space for trophies that never quite make it to the recipient) - it would have been the Scouser who has been now been released by the club. Nav has been phenomenal and really is unlucky not to be given a new contract, especially considering he was given a one-year contract extension when he hadn't played all of last season. And in a season when we finished above P****e.
But football is much like life, and what you and us think is best may not always be the case. As we said on the front cover of TSLR when Poyet was appointed, in Gus we trust. And whatever sad feelings we may have about the passing of Navarro, we must continue to trust in the man at the helm of this football club. Navs is clearly a very decent Division 2 player, but Gus wants more than that. And we must trust his judgement.
The obvious highlight from Navs this season was when he scored his first - and ultimately last - goal for this football club away - as with so many this season - in injury time at Leeds. One of TSLR's best customers backed him to score the last goal at 25-1 that day after seeing it happen in a dream the night before. And that goal kept all of our play-off dreams going awhile longer the night after. But his solidity in the middle of the park all season - in breaking up play and giving it to the pacey midfielders shortly thereafter - is what we'll all remember him by.
If missing man Ryan Harley and Gary Dicker - whose abject performances towards the end of the season frustrated everyone - continue to play in this Albion side, then you have to feel extremely sorry for Alan Navarro. If it was Football Manager, I'd keep him on for at least another season. But Gus is playing the game, and he's more ruthless. Navs, we salute you, good sir. The very best of luck to you from all at TSLR Towers for the future.
And you can guarantee that if he is picked up by a fellow Championship club this summer, you won't need a dream to remind you he'll probably score the winner.