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.
“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.