Belfast Telegraph

Ex-Spurs boss Tim Sherwood is set to replace sacked Alan Irvine

By Sam Wallace

The former Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood is on the brink of being appointed the new West Bromwich Albion head coach following the sacking of Alan Irvine.

The 45-year-old is in talks with the club and is the first choice of chairman Jeremy Peace. He was offered the job in the summer before Irvine was appointed but could not reach agreement on personal terms.

Although Sherwood's managerial record extends only to 28 games in charge of Tottenham last season, winning 14 and drawing five, he previously earned glowing references as Head of Football Development and has been linked with many top-flight vacancies since he was sacked by Spurs in May.

The job he faces at West Brom, however, is a difficult one, in trying to turn around a poor run of seven defeats in nine games which has left the team just one point above the bottom three in the Premier League table and cost Irvine his job on Monday night.

Irvine's difficult spell at the Hawthorns was finally ended after a 2-0 defeat to Stoke and Sherwood looks set to become West Brom's fourth head coach in just over a year, following Steve Clarke, Pepe Mel and Irvine.

Sherwood will also have to win over fans disgruntled at Peace, who had delayed making a decision on Irvine in the hope of a revival but Albion's dismal form, and the sheer level of hostility towards Irvine (below) eventually forced the hand of the chairman.

There was huge opposition from fans from the moment Irvine was appointed in June as he was sacked at both his previous clubs as manager at Preston and Sheffield Wednesday.

Now the club are desperate to try and avoid relegation to the Championship for the first time in five seasons.

Staying up is still possible, according to caretaker manager Rob Kelly. He said yesterday: "I work with the players every day. I see the qualities they've got. We can survive, absolutely," he said.

Their next match is tomorrow at West Ham with Irvine's assistants Kelly, Keith Downing and Dean Kiely expected to take charge.

Although Downing and Kelly were booed along with Irvine after Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Stoke, Kelly remained upbeat yesterday about what the new manager can expect to find when he arrives.

"It's a great job, a good job," he said. "If you're the manager or head coach of any Premier League club it's challenging. But they're good players."

He also believed the manager's departure will not affect the team during the West Ham clash.

"They had a lot of respect for Alan. He's a terrific person, a terrific man, and an excellent coach... but they're professional people so we get on with our jobs," he said.

"We will do that at West Ham."

As for the season so far, he added: "It's been frustrating because in all of the games we've been competitive. Apart from Swansea, when we conceded a couple of early goals, we've been in all the games.

"The performances have been of a standard where the results could have been better. That happens. It's important you keep that level of performance high. If you do that then eventually you get the result.

"Anyone who saw our first half at Stoke, our second half at Manchester City, large spells at QPR... our performances have generally been good, we've created chances and we've also scored goals. We've got to look at the positives and keep to that level."

Meanwhile, the club yesterday insisted that reports suggesting their highly rated striker Saido Berahino is set to join Liverpool in a £23m move were "entire fabrication".

Berahino was one of the Premier League's star performers at the start of the season as he scored seven goals in the Baggies' first nine games and earned a first call-up to the senior England squad in November.

The 21-year-old, however, started just one of Irvine's last five matches in charge at the Hawthorns, prompting reports linking the striker with a move to Liverpool and Tottenham.

Tottenham, however, are understood to not be interested in signing Berahino and have no plans to make a bid for the forward in January, while the Baggies have categorically denied the youngster will be sold to Liverpool.

The club took to social media website Twitter yesterday, posting: "Okay, it's time to clear a few things up. One final time, this Berahino to Liverpool story for a £23m fee is, and always has been, an entire fabrication."

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