Belfast Telegraph

Irvine asks fans for chance

New West Brom head coach Alan Irvine has called on the club's fans to give him a chance - although he has no doubt the only way to win them over is with positive results.

Irvine was the surprise name announced last weekend as Pepe Mel's successor and some Albion supporters have hit out at the appointment, with talk emerging of an organised protest against chairman Jeremy Peace's decision being planned.

Peace did not attend a press conference on Wednesday where Irvine - flanked by Baggies technical director Terry Burton - was officially unveiled by the midlands outfit.

But asked at the media gathering what his own message for West Brom fans was, Irvine said: "Keep supporting us and give us a chance - give us all the chance to make sure we can do the job.

"I understand that I wouldn't have been the name on everybody's lips, but I've got this job now.

"I know that the Albion fans are incredibly passionate, but I think they'll find that I'm incredibly passionate as well and hopefully together we can help the team to get success."

Handed a 12-month rolling deal, Irvine has been tasked with turning the fortunes around for a club that finished 17th in the Barclays Premier League last season, just three points clear of the relegation zone.

It is his first top-flight senior management role and his prior experience as a number one amounts to stints at Preston and then Sheffield Wednesday, with the latter coming to an end in 2011 when he was sacked with the club mid-table in League One.

Tim Sherwood, who guided Tottenham to sixth in the Premier League last term before being dismissed, had appeared to be West Brom's first choice to take over as their head coach and has claimed he was offered the job but turned it down - a situation Burton was reluctant to talk about on Wednesday.

Irvine, meanwhile, simply emphasised his delight at the opportunity he had been given.

And when asked about winning over those fans questioning his appointment, the 55-year-old Scot said: "The only way I can do that is by winning games, quite simply.

"It would be lovely if everyone was absolutely delighted and thinking this was the best appointment that could ever have been made, but the only way I'm going to prove that is by helping the team get success."

Irvine believes he is probably under even more pressure than incoming managers normally are given the reaction there has been in this instance, but is relishing the job nonetheless.

He said: "People might not give me the time that they might have given someone else. But I hope that is not the case and people realise there is a lot of work to be done.

"You don't turn things round overnight and hopefully people will get behind us. I think the majority of fans will but, of course, it all comes down to results again."

Irvine has worked for many years as a coach. To take up this post, he is leaving his position as academy chief at Everton and before the Preston and Wednesday jobs, he was Toffees number two, assisting David Moyes.

Moyes endured a tough time at Manchester United last term, but that was never going to put Irvine off when it came to the West Brom offer.

"I didn't think twice at all - I thought 'what a fantastic opportunity'," Irvine said.

"I have missed the excitement of a Saturday, the thrill of being involved at first-team level, and I couldn't even think about turning down this opportunity."

Irvine has already stressed the need for West Brom's squad to be strengthened and he confirmed on Wednesday that Albion are in negotiations to sign former England defender Joleon Lescott.

The 31-year-old centre-back, out of contract this summer after five years with Manchester City, worked with Irvine at Everton.

Irvine said: ''There is an interest in Joleon, without a doubt. He is a player I know well.

''I believe negotiations are going very well at this particular moment. So hopefully we are able to meet Joleon's demands.

"Joleon has said he would be more than happy to work with me again."

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