Alan Irvine

Premier League 2015-16 season preview: West Bromwich Albion

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Last promoted to the Premier League in 2010, West Brom has been the definition of hard-nosed, survival Premier League soccer. It’s never usually not pretty, but so far it’s gotten the job done…barely.

[ MORE: All of PST’s season previews ]

Coming off a season where they unceremoniously finished 13th, revived under Tony Pulis, a new season of gut and grind awaits, and it could be a tumultuous one. The West Brom squad is continuously in flux, but this season there’s a healthy amount of continuity.

[ MORE: Full schedule for every PL club

A defensively sound squad added Rickie Lambert to bring some finishing ability to a group that lacked creativity, and James Chester from Hull City adds depth and experience to an already packed back line.

Best Possible XI:

—Foster—

–Lescott–Olsson–Chester–Dawson–

–Brunt–Morrison–Yacob—Fletcher–McManaman–

—Berahino—

 

Transfers In: James Chester ($12.4 million, Hull City), Rickie Lambert ($4.6 million, Liverpool), James McLean ($2.3 million, Wigan Athletic).

Transfers Out: Youssuf Mulumbu (Released, Norwich City), Chris Baird (Released, Derby County) 

Star Player: Saido Berahino

With 20 goals across all competitions last season, West Brom managed to hold onto its 21-year-old star. Despite his youth, Berahino is vitally important to the club as its only recognizable star player in a squad of under-the-radar workhorses. With Rickie Lambert now on the team, it could allow Berahino to work in a more creative role, but they’ll need his flair up front once again.

The club scored 38 Premier League goals last season – fifth least in the English top flight – and nearly half those came from Berahino. He’ll need help next year if he wants to repeat those numbers.

Last Season: 13th in the Premier League – Just four wins before the Christmas break meant Alan Irvine got the axe, and the club brought in Tony Pulis to replace him. The club finished the season strong, including a 3-0 win over Chelsea in the second-to-last week. They managed a 13th-placed result, typical of a West Brom side used to mediocrity.

Coach’s Corner: Tony Pulis is well-known along the Premier League stage. Known for his defensive propensity and a love for the long-ball, you know what you’re going to get from Pulis. Love him or hate him, he’s likely one of the strengths of this squad. He is known for a hard-nosed style, which fits West Brom perfectly.

PST Predicts: If Saido Berahino can repeat his goalscoring season, and he can provide for Lambert, West Brom will stay away from the drop. However, Lambert must prove he’s still useful at 33 years old, and the midfield needs some kind of creative spark. It’s easy to see this squad in the bottom three at the end of May.

West Brom fire Alan Irvine, reportedly targeting Tim Sherwood as replacement

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West Bromich Albion have fired manager Alan Irvine and are reportedly lining up former Tottenham Hotspur boss Tim Sherwood as his replacement, according to a report by the Telegraph.

On Friday, the current Premier League season looked like it might make its way into the New Year without the firing of a single manager for the first time in more than a decade. On Saturday, Neil Warnock was shown the door by Crystal Palace.

On Monday, Irvine’s time ran out following a run of three-straight league defeats that saw his side slip to 16th in the Premier League standings, just one point clear of relegation.  Irvine, who only took over at West Brom in June, and his team felt the rathe of the club’s traveling supporters following their 2-0 loss to Stoke City on Sunday.

Sherwood, who managed Tottenham from Dec. 2013 to May 2014, was interviewed for the job in the summer and reportedly tops chairman Jeremy Peace’s wish list this time around. Sherwood managed Spurs for 28 games, winning 14 and drawing four.

Fan anger has Alan Irvine’s job status in question despite popularity with West Brom players

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West Bromwich Albion chairman Jeremy Peace reportedly has a load of reasons not to remove Alan Irvine, but fan anger is working against both parties.

A report from the BBC’s Pat Murphy claims that Peace likes Irvine and does not want to hire a fourth manager in one year, but that fans have never warmed up to Irvine as manager. And fans can make a situation feel untenable even when the players are behind their coach.

The Baggies are a point above the drop zone, and their 18 goals scored are tied for the fifth-fewest in the Premier League. Only three players have scored multiple goals for the team, and only Saido Berahino has more than two.

[ RECAP: Stoke City 2-0 West Bromwich Albion ]

What WBA is missing seems to be player quality, and unfortunately for their fans that is not aimed at Irvine. He’s the head coach of the club, not the traditional European manager, and works with the players sent to him by a seemingly muddled group of administrators.

From the BBC:

“Money is not a factor because the imperative for Mr Peace is to stay in the Premier League but he’s genuinely fond of Irvine. He knows how popular he is with the first-team squad and – as a left-field choice by Mr Peace last June – doesn’t want a fourth head coach in just over a year, with his own reputation suffering a further blow.

“Mr Peace also knows the market for alternatives is hardly stimulating. He will not dismantle the continental-style model of a head coach working to a technical director, rather than the traditional system of a manager working to a chairman – and many possible candidates like Tony Pulis won’t agree to the West Brom structure.

“But a key factor is Irvine’s unpopularity with a vociferous section of the West Brom season ticket holders who were dismayed at the appointment of a comparative unknown and have never given Irvine a chance. Just one win in the last nine and five home defeats in the Premier League haven’t helped Irvine’s cause.”

Therein lies the rub, as results are obviously the most visible status symbol of a club. WBA doesn’t have them, but the same home record being criticized in the report fails to note that the Hawthorns has seen these four opponents for four of those five recent losses: Arsenal, Manchester City, Newcastle United and West Ham United.

The Baggies go to West Ham on New Year’s Day before finally getting a reprieve on the home slate with Hull City coming to town. The Baggies then travel to Everton before hosting Spurs, as January doesn’t do them too many favors. The schedule finally softens in February, but can Peace handle waiting that long without a consistent uptick in results? That’s the big question, along with what the Baggies do in the January transfer window.

With Warnock out, who is the next manager to go?

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Sacking season is officially underway in the Premier League.

Earlier this morning, Crystal Palace parted ways with Neil Warnock after only four months in charge.

As Palace begins its search for a new manager, could more teams be following their footsteps?

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

According to the bookies, West Brom’s Alan Irvine is the favorite to be sacked. The Baggies have lost six of their last eight matches and currently sit 15th on the table.

Following their 3-1 defeat against Manchester City, Irvine said he can’t be confident about his future at the Hawthorns.

The chairman will make a decision as far as that is concerned. I can’t control it. Can I be confident about it? Not necessarily, because I don’t know what the thinking is.

All I can do is work as hard as I do and keep on trying to get the right kind of performances and results.”

[ WATCH: Premier League TV Schedule — Week 19 ]

While West Brom has had a tough run of games against Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and West Ham, they dropped a two goal lead to Queens Park Rangers that had fans calling for change.

Over at the King Power Stadium, Nigel Pearson is also on the chopping block as Leicester City have struggled to get results after coming up from the Championship. The Foxes sit dead last on the table, managing only two wins and ten points through 18 matches.

[ RECAP: Leicester City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur ]

With Leicester struggling on the pitch, Pearson has also had his problems off the field, earning a suspension for an altercation with a fan and rubbing supporters the wrong way when he questioned their loyalty to the club.

During the Foxes’ loss to Tottenham on Boxing Day, Leicester supporters could be heard chanting “You’re nothing special, we lose every week,” mocking their club’s poor form throughout the season.

With matches tomorrow and again on New Year’s Day, it could be their last chance to save their jobs.

 

Alan Irvine calls Costa goal offside, bright spot was spectacular Ben Foster

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West Brom hasn’t had a great run of form in past weeks, falling to Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge en route to a third consecutive Premier League defeat today.

The Baggies haven’t won a match since a 4-0 blanking of Burnley took place on Sep. 28, and while some games have definitely been within range of victory, certain moments have downed Alan Irvine’s squad.

In this contest, an excellent piece of work to chest and volley home a strike by Diego Costa put the home team ahead in the 11th minute, and from there, very little went in Albion’s favor.

[RELATED: Recap of Blues-Baggies]

Ruing the entire 90 minutes in general, Irvine did specifically point out this first goal, resenting the fact that it wasn’t nullified with an offside call. The game-sealing goal–a quick doorstep finish from Eden Hazard– arrived before the West Brom had given up the red, showing a weak set-piece mentality that the manager thought was unacceptable.

“Obviously I am bitterly disappointed that we have lost the game and disappointed that it was so difficult for us from early in the game to get something out of it,” he said. “Well we actually went a goal down to a goal which I thought was offside and that makes life very difficult here.

“The second goal was extremely disappointing from our point of view because we pride ourselves on being organised at set-pieces and we weren’t as organised as we should have been.”

The one positive note on the loss for West Brom was goalie Ben Foster, who made wonderful saves on both Costa and Hazard during one sequence, as well as a heads-up save against John Terry. Irvine believes the Englishman truly displayed his value as a first-class goalie.

“He [Foster] played very well, he’s a top goalkeeper he was called upon more today than he was in any other game that we have had this season and he proved why is so highly-rated.”