Belfast Telegraph

Kelly credits Irvine after draw

West Brom's 1-1 draw at West Ham was courtesy of Alan Irvine's pre-defined tactics rather than rousing words of new head coach Tony Pulis, according to caretaker boss Rob Kelly.

A first goal in 12 Premier League appearances from the recalled Saido Berahino cancelled out Diafra Sakho's opener for the Hammers - who are now without a win in three.

Former Stoke and Crystal Palace manager Pulis was announced as Irvine's replacement on Thursday morning and was in the crowd at Upton Park, although he was in east London for more than a simple watching brief.

Kelly confirmed the Welshman had met the players ahead of the game, as well as talking in the dressing room at half-time and full-time, with his assistant David Kemp joining the caretaker team in the dug-out for the second half.

But Kelly praised the out-going Irvine for formulating the plan that saw them secure a point to keep themselves out of the relegation zone.

"I'm sure it had an effect," Kelly said of Pulis' appearance at the game

"He introduced himself this morning to the players, popped in at half-time and said one or two things and came in at the end of the game.

"He let myself, Keith and Dean get on with the organisation and preparation but anyone who knows Alan knows how planned he is.

"We had spoken about the group of games as a whole and had gone through it with Alan and done most of the work there with the team we were thinking of playing.

"Tony and David Kemp let us get on with it. He came up with one or two suggestions and that was it. It was brief. Me and the staff were told this morning. He introduced himself to the players and we got on with it. They are very professional.

"The preparation was done beforehand. I saw what I see every week - a group of focused professionals determined to do their job well.

"Anyone who knows Alan knows how well-structured and organised he is and on a football front, we planned it as best we could."

Kelly would not be drawn on what Kemp's suggestions were as he sat with the staff during the second half, only saying they were "football suggestions".

Like so many managers and players over the festive period, Hammers boss Sam Allardyce was left bemoaning the fatigue caused by playing so many games in a small period of time.

Following back-to-back defeats at the hands of Chelsea and Arsenal, Allardyce would have targeted a return to winning ways in this game.

But he admitted his side were a little flat - something he had expected and hoped would not prevent them collecting three points.

"In terms of the players and where they are it was a big effort," he said.

"Our finishing quality was something that we wanted when we needed it but we couldn't find it - but effort-wise it was a tremendous effort.

"It would be nothing else other than a tired performance from both teams today. When you fatigue like the lads are going to do, more mistakes happen and that has to be accepted.

"Today it was about the result, not about the performance because the performance was never going to be great. Never. Not after you have asked the players to play a third time in six days - what we needed was to get the result and, unfortunately, we didn't get it."


From Belfast Telegraph