ALAN Irvine has urged his players to prove the doubters wrong as he prepares for Albion’s Barclays Premier League opener with Sunderland on Saturday (ko 3pm).
Many of the bookies and media pundits have tipped the Baggies to be in a relegation battle again after finishing 17th last term.
But the new Hawthorns boss is unfazed by the predictions and admits he is happy to use them as a motivational tool for his troops.
“They get it wrong,” said Irvine.
“The fact is it’s somebody’s opinion and they’re entitled to that opinion.
“It would be interesting to know whether they come out towards the end of the season and say ‘we got that one right but we got those ones wrong’.
“I know the answer to that of course!
“I don’t read newspapers, I don’t go on social networking; it takes me long enough to answer emails and text messages.
“The idea of going on Facebook and Twitter is a non-starter.
“I don’t listen to phone-ins - but I watch TV.
“It’s not a case of not doing it because I’m trying to bury my head in the sand but because I’m not surprised by what’s being said.
“People will be looking at it and thinking we’ve got a difficult job.
“They know what happened last season.
“The only thing that changes that is us getting the right results.
“We can worry about the past and what people are saying or we can get on with the work – and hopefully get the right results.
“I’m more than happy to use it to motivate the players.
“It’s up to the media guys to bring me that information.
“It’s not because I’m burying my head in the sand and think everything is perfect.
“I know it isn’t.
“We’ve had a very disrupted pre-season, there is no question about that.
“But it’s a club that had a lot of problems last season.
“My appointment didn’t change a whole load of that – that’s where we are just now.
“I can’t affect any of that.
“All I can do is work as hard as possible and hopefully we’ll get the right results.
“Hopefully we’ll get all the players back and we’ll get them all gelled together and go from there.”
The Baggies boss is also not reading anything into finishing pre-season with three successive defeats, insisting he is happy with the work his players have done.
“I had a chat with David [Moyes] last week and we were saying you get some pre-seasons where everything feels right and results go well,” he added.
“But after the worst pre-season we had at Everton we finished fourth.
“Everything went wrong, we lost Wayne [Rooney], we lost game after game and looked really poor.
“We’d actually finished 17th the year before and we finished fourth.
“Pre-season is pre-season; it’s about getting you ready for the start of the season.
“Even when you think you’re ready, sometimes it doesn’t work.
“And there are times when you think you’re not ready and it does work.
“It’s all about what happens when the real ball comes out.”
And, after a summer that has seen huge changes to the squad, he is hoping Albion can be this season’s surprise package and get back to the eighth, tenth and 11th-place finishes they achieved in the three seasons before last term.
“You never know who is going to spring out of the pack because over the last few seasons it has been a different club that has done it,” he said.
“Who predicted what Southampton did last season? They got a lot of momentum from that.
“I’ve done the exercise before where you sit down and try and predict where you’ll get your points from.
“It’s funny because quite often you can be accurate in terms of the number of points you get but totally inaccurate in terms of where you get them.
“You can pick up your points in places you don’t expect to and drop them in places where maybe you do expect to get points.
“It’s important to get a good start and we are desperate to get a good start, there’s no question about that.
“But last season Tony Pulis proved what a good finish can do as well.
“The fact is Palace went on a magnificent run from being certainties for relegation - and Sunderland.
“They looked like they had no chance and they ended up getting out of it with games to spare, Palace ended up mid-table.
“But a good start is important and helps without any doubt.”