West Brom have made a huge mistake in appointing Alan Irvine

West Brom

West Bromwich Albion have today made the surprise announcement that Alan Irvine will become the club's new manager.

It wouldn't have taken many people by surprise if West Brom had chosen Tim Sherwood as Pepe Mel's replacement as it seemed like a perfect fit. However they seem to have caught everyone out by appointing former Preston North End and Sheffield Wednesday manager Alan Irvine.

At the age of 55, Irvine doesn't have a great deal of managerial experience and has mainly spent his time as a youth coach or in charge of academies. However in the summer of 2009 Irvine was in talks with West Brom with regards to becoming their manager following an impressive season in the Championship with Preston.

At the time The Baggies were looking to replace Tony Mowbray who had left to join Celtic and Alan Irvine had guided PNE to the play-offs before a poor display against Sheffield United ended their hopes of promotion. At the time Irvine claimed he rejected the job and they went on to appoint Roberto Di Matteo.

Since then Di Matteo has won the Champions League and Irvine was relegated with Sheffield Wednesday before returning to Everton as Academy manager. Irvine will now get his chance to manage at The Hawthorns having signed a 12-month rolling contract.

In Irvine's only full season in charge with Preston he took them to 6th place with a dramatic last minute goal at Deepdale, and from the outside it may look as if his dismissal just seven months later was harsh. It wasn't however, and Irvine's brand of football was boring the fans and wasn't picking up enough points anymore. Irvine had inherited a very good squad left over from the Billy Davies days whilst Paul Simpson had made some decent additions.

The Scot was given plenty of money to develop the squad but wasted it on players such as Neal Trotman and Richard Chaplow. In 2009 Preston had the chance to sign Charlie Adam but Irvine chose to sign Veliče Šumulikoski instead. (The 'Macedonian Gerrard' in case you didn't know). Adam went on to score 16 goals and almost on his own clinched promotion for Blackpool. Šumulikoski on the other hand played just 15 games for North End.

In 2011 Preston were relegated from the Championship and with the money that Irvine had wasted it was him who had started the ball rolling.

He also took Sheffield Wednesday down in 2010 and despite being given a big budget again by new owner Milan Mandaric he failed to build a side capable of challenging at the top of League One and was sacked with The Owls in 15th place.

Irvine's strengths certainly weren't in the transfer market or with tactics, he was however appreciated by the players and they were devastated when he left. He is respected at youth level in the Premier League and is credited with bringing players like Steven Taylor, Jack Rodwell and Ross Barkley in his time.

The 55-year-old isn't ready for Premier League management. It's a harsh environment to manage in and he will need to hit the ground running, there isn't time to slowly develop things at this level.

Tim Sherwood was the other man in contention and is thought to have rejected the job. Pepe Mel hadn't managed in the Premier League before and he wasn't deemed good enough, and whilst Irvine and his assistant Rob Kelly have experience in plenty of areas, the Premier League isn't one of them.

West Brom need to focus on their additions this summer and Irvine doesn't have a great track record with those. One positive is that he is likely to put his faith in the youth following his background and players such as Saido Berahino and George Thorne could come to the forefront.

 

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