Sheffield Wednesday: West Brom chief defends ex-Owls boss appointment

Alan Irvine is unveiled as the new West Browich Head Coach
Alan Irvine is unveiled as the new West Browich Head Coach
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West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace is confident the “unanimous” decision of the board to hire former Sheffield Wednesday manager Alan Irvine as the club’s new head coach was the right one.

Albion’s announcement last Saturday that Irvine would be coming in as Pepe Mel’s successor on a 12-month rolling deal has drawn a negative response from some Baggies fans, and talk has emerged of an organised protest against the appointment being planned.

Alan Irvine when manager of Sheffield Wednesday

Alan Irvine when manager of Sheffield Wednesday

Irvine, who has not held a senior management position since being sacked by then new Owls owner Milan Mandaric in early 2011 and never one in the Premier League before, called on West Brom supporters to give him a chance at his official unveiling on Wednesday.

And Peace said: “People have their say but we have to make the right decision for the football club and not be swayed by what other people think.

“If you ask a lot of people who they’d have in the job they’d be split anyway.

“You can’t always make the easy decisions. You have to make the right decisions.

“As a board we made a unanimous decision that we think is right for this football club. We now have to try and get players in and get people behind us.

“We think we can give ourselves a good chance of having a good season. Alan speaks well, his philosophies are good and we are confident people will buy into that. We have made the right decision for the club - we really do believe that.”

Tim Sherwood, who guided Tottenham to sixth in the Premier League last term before being sacked, had appeared to be West Brom’s first choice to take over as their head coach and has claimed he was offered the job but turned it down.

There has been an emphasis from Albion, meanwhile, on the coaching credentials of Irvine, the academy chief at Everton prior to this job and also Toffees number two between 2002 and 2007 before stints as boss at Preston and Sheffield Wednesday.

And Peace insists the Baggies board regarded Irvine the best option after assessing the 55-year-old Scot and Sherwood “side-by-side”.

Peace said: “We went through a lengthy interview process.

“We had about 40-odd people, shortlisted to about seven, went down to a shorter shortlist and the more you see of people, the more you get to know them, the more you get more impressed or the less you’re impressed.

“Alan came through that process very strongly and ended up as our first choice.

“You might say that it was a difficult one given the reaction but we’ve tried to make the right decision from the club’s point of view.

“We have a coaching ethic here. We feel that he fits the bill for us.

“We ended up with two very good candidates (Irvine and Sherwood) and when you look at them side-by-side the whole board went with Alan. It was unanimous.”