Baggies boss takes positives from final pre-season encounter
ALAN Irvine insists Porto provided his players with the ideal workout ahead of next Saturday’s Barclays Premier League opener against Sunderland.
The Baggies finished on the wrong end of a 3-1 defeat in their final pre-season encounter as a second-half double from Colombia World Cup star Jackson Martinez put them to the sword.
Jonas Olsson had earlier cancelled out Casemiro’s opener to level the scores at the break.
But the Portuguese Champions League outfit turned on the style in the second half and pushed the Baggies - who had key players missing due to injuries and fitness - to the limits.
“Porto are a top side,” said Irvine, who took charge of his first game as Albion boss at The Hawthorns.
“I watched them last week at Everton, who are very good side, and they did the same thing.
“They pass the ball extremely well, they press really well.
“Last week they didn’t start with Jackson and this week they did.
“As you can see he is a top player.
“They are preparing for a Champions League qualifier next week and I’ll be surprised if they don’t win the Champions League qualifier next week.
“They’re a very, very good side and it was as good a test as we could have chosen.
“It was a great exercise from our point of view.
“I don’t think we’ll come up against a team that can use the ball as well as they do and get back as well as they do.
“It’s much better for us to have that kind of test, physically, mentally, technically, tactically – than have something that is comfortable and doesn’t get you ready for the start of the season.”
The Albion chief added: “I saw a lot of hard work, honesty and endeavour from us; players who were trying to work on the things we’d worked on during the week.
“Bearing in mind how good they were in passing the ball, it was important we had a good shape about us and good organisation when they had the ball.
“Some of their passing was over the moon.
“Technically we could have been better.
“We were wasteful with the ball when we did get it; but that’s really easy for me to say because I wasn’t the person out there chasing to try and get it back.
“And the fact is when you’ve worked that hard to get it back it’s also very hard to keep it because you’ve got to work to keep it.
“Sometimes players were needing a breather when we’d just won the ball back.
“Overall it was a fantastic exercise for us.”