ALAN Irvine insists he is thriving on the pressure on the eve of his first season as a Barclays Premier League boss.
The 56-year-old is itching to get going in the first competitive game of his Hawthorns reign against Sunderland (ko 3pm).
And he is keen to bring back the good times after the pain of last season.
“I understand how difficult it was for the fans but I know from speaking to everyone here - the players, staff, the board, the chairman - how difficult it was for them too,” said Irvine.
“Clearly everyone is hoping for something better this season.
“It’s clear last season hurt the players.
“A lot of the time I hear people say that players don’t care - but they do.
“Last season scarred a lot of people but the players have shown me they are ready to move on.
“They are ready to make something better this season.
“It can happen to teams - where you find yourself in a position where you cannot find a way to win.
“That can be very difficult to get out of.
“Likewise you can get into a run where you feel you can win every week. Hopefully that’s what we’ll experience.
“A good start would certainly help because people will be nervous.
“That’s the only way the fans will be happy.
“And we’re all striving for the same thing, so it’s important we all work together.”
The Albion chief, who left his job as Everton Academy Manager to move to the Black Country, added: “I’m really excited and really looking forward to it.
“I’ve spent three years away from first-team football – and I’ve missed it.
“So I can’t be saying on the one hand I’ve missed it and then the first chance I get involved start saying ‘I’m a bit nervous about this’.
“The fact is I’m really looking forward to it, I’m very excited.
“If you don’t want pressure you don’t take this job.
“I had a lovely job before where there was no pressure at all – and I chose this.
“If I didn’t want pressure I wouldn’t be here.”