Never has a side sitting in 13th place in the Premier League looked so impressive. That’s probably because West Brom, who are 13th with 13 points from 11 games, are only five points off the top four.
At the same time, though, the Baggies are only four off the relegation zone.
But the league season so far has definitely been a source of positivity for West Brom fans at the Hawthorns. Saido Berahino has been the division’s best English striker by a distance, Joleon Lescott made a massive impact when he first arrived and consistent, reliable performers have largely delivered in Craig Gardner, Ben Foster, Craig Dawson and more.
So what about the man who has gelled everything together – boss Alan Irvine?
The Scot got off to a shaky start in the Midlands, failing to win his first four Premier League games and looking to many as another manager West Brom simply hired to save money. But Irvine appeared undeterred during that period and the one that followed seemed to show he is a man with a long-term plan.
A run of just one defeat in six games saw the Baggies look confident against Manchester United, Tottenham, Burnley and even Liverpool – the team they lost to.
Now, there is less talk of Irvine as the man West Brom turned to simply because they couldn’t afford/attract others. Even when the 56-year-old’s side lose, there is often a strong performance behind that losing team.
Will Irvine keep West Brom up, keep them mid-table, or take them into the top half? It could go either way from here. But what’s certain is that Irvine has already defied his critics and surpassed expectations with the kind of football he has the Baggies playing. Now it’s a case of maintaining that form and producing the results in the months that follow.
Manager Grading: B