West Bromwich Albion boss Alan Irvine is undoubtedly under immense pressure at the Hawthorns. The Baggies travelled to the Britannia Stadium to take on Stoke City on Sunday, and after enduring another disappointing defeat, Irvine is edging ever closer to the sack.
When the Scot took over at Albion in mid-June, he wasn’t the fans’ first-choice, and he has been under enormous pressure ever since. The Baggies have lost their last three Premier League games on the bounce, and currently sit in 16th place in the league table – with just 17 points accumulated from 19 games.
On Boxing Day, Irvine publicly spoke out on his future at West Brom, he told BBC Sport: “The chairman will make a decision as far as that is concerned, I can’t control it. Can I be confident about it? Not necessarily, because I don’t know what the thinking is.” Irvine added: “All I can do is work as hard as I do and keep on trying to get the right kind of performances and results.”
After the Baggies’ trip to Stoke ended in more disappointment, Irvine’s future at the Hawthorns is hanging by a thread. The former Preston North End and Sheffield Wednesday boss is currently in his first job in the top-flight. But with only four wins from 19 Premier League games, the 56-year-old is finding life extremely difficult at West Brom. The fans made their feelings known at the end of the game at the Britannia, as chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning”, and a chorus of boos greeted Irvine at the final whistle.
But over the years, the sacking of managers doesn’t always have the immediate effect the club are looking for. All three of last years relegated sides sacked their managers at some stage of the season. West Brom also changed their boss midway through last term, as Pepe Mel took over from Steve Clarke in December. The Baggies survived by the skin of their teeth – they finished in 17th place, just three points above the drop zone.
Sometimes it benefits all parties if the chairman keeps the faith in his manager, and sticks by them when things aren’t going to plan. But Albion’s Jeremy Peace has shown in the past that he’s not afraid to chop and change his bosses when he feels necessary – Clarke was harshly dismissed last December, with the club hovering above the relegation zone. But the season before, Clarke guided the Baggies to eighth place in the Premier League – which was their best finish since 1981.
Pepe Mel, who effectively completed the job that was asked – keeping the Baggies in the Premier League – was another boss who would have felt hard done by. Irvine will certainly hope he will be given a bit more time to prove he’s the right man to take the club forward.
If the Scot does indeed keep his job in the Albion hot seat through January, it will be very interesting to see the calibre of player he can bring into the Hawthorns. It’s also imperative that he does all he can to keep Saido Berahino – who’s West Brom’s top scorer with eight goals.
January will also be a pivotal month for the Baggies on the pitch. West Brom face a trip to Upton Park on New Years Day – to take on high flyers West Ham United – before hosting Hull City nine days later. They then face a trip to underachieving Everton, before finishing the month off with a home game against Tottenham Hotspur.