Belfast Telegraph

Irvine asks fans for patience

West Brom boss Alan Irvine has asked the Baggies boo-boys to be supporters rather than just fans, admitting their criticism of him "hurts" and "stings".

Albion are enduring a sticky patch which has seen them lose three in succession while going over 300 minutes without a Barclays Premier League goal.

Fans voiced their frustration during Saturday's 1-0 loss at home to Arsenal, with Irvine's decision to send on Georgios Samaras in place of Stephane Sessegnon particularly irking them.

The head coach admits such a reaction is unpleasant but rejects any suggestions his tactics are too negative.

"It hurts," he said. "I'd be telling lies if I said it didn't hurt. It stings.

"I made a decision which I thought might give us a chance to get back into the game and it nearly worked, because we were more dangerous in that last period of the game.

"It could have worked and people would have felt differently about it then."

Irvine, whose side face West Ham at The Hawthorns on Tuesday, added: "The fans are our supporters - and that's exactly what we're hoping they'll do. We're hoping they'll be there to support us.

"Obviously I know it works both ways and we've got to give them things to cheer about. Hopefully in the good times we can do that, but in the difficult times we could do with our fans being exactly that - supporters. People there to try to help us.

"We want the same thing: to win games. And we have a better chance of winning games if we're all together, the fans, the players and the whole club.

"I can't tell them that they have to be patient. I can say I would like them to be patient and bear with us but I can't demand or insist that they are.

"It's up to them how they want to react or behave when they come to the games."

Albion may be without full-back Sebastien Pocognoli (dead leg) and midfielder James Morrison (illness) for the Hammers' visit.

West Ham head to tackle the Baggies on the back of a scrappy 1-0 win over in-form Newcastle at Upton Park on Saturday.

Allardyce believes the Irons are heading into a period which will define their campaign.

"We have a massive few weeks and months ahead of us and it will be a big test," he said.

"This week we have had nine points on offer - we have got three of them already, so it is a huge week for us."

Allardyce added: "West Brom have only won one home (league) game this season, so their fans are starved of victory at the moment and we have got to pray on what might be a little lack of confidence.

"If we can keep the ball and move it around like we did on Saturday, then we might be able to make the West Brom fans a little nervous."

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