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Old boys reunion gives Irvine a boost

1 December 2014

Baggies boss on Hammers, January and more...

HEAD coach Alan Irvine is planning to get back to winning ways against West Ham tomorrow night buoyed by a vote of confidence from his two predecessors.

Former Albion head coaches Roy Hodgson and Steve Clarke were at The Hawthorns to see their old team’s narrow 1-0 defeat to Arsenal on Saturday.

Hodgson was there in his capacity as England manager while Clarke was with the BT Sport commentary team.

And for a short while after the game, all three past and present Albion gaffers were able to swap notes in the head coach’s room down in the Hawthorns’ tunnel area.

“Both Roy and Steve came down to see me after the game and it was good to chat with both,” said Irvine.

“In fact Steve was at the Chelsea game the previous week too. They were both great; full of praise for the way we had tackled Arsenal and believing we were worthy of a better reward. 

“They are two men who understand the difficulties that we face and it was good to hear their thoughts. As I say, they were very complimentary about how the boys had played.”

Irvine, though, acknowledges that kind words do not outweigh the demand for points as the Baggies bid to end a three-game losing streak with the visit of the Hammers (8pm ko).

He added: “I can’t tell the supporters to be patient. I would like them to be but I can’t make any demands. What I will say is we are all working as hard as we can to get the results we all want.”

Irvine on team news..... 
“Sebastien Pocognoli has a dead leg and that clearly puts a doubt about him for the game. We will assess him again closer to kick-off.  

"James Morrison has trained with us again over the last couple of days and is feeling better. He has one or two problems which occurred while he was away with Scotland and we will again see how he is closer to the game. 

"Jonas Olsson is back from his Achilles operation and is in good spirits which is a sign it went well. He is talking about four to six weeks’ recovery period.”

Irvine on fans’ criticism..... 
“I was a bit taken aback by the reaction to the substitution (of Samaras for Sessegnon) on Saturday. It wasn’t as if I was putting on a defensive player. I was trying to get a different type of attacking player on. 

"And I think the evidence of the last period was that it so nearly worked. If it had, I would have been praised; it didn’t quite happen so you are accused of not knowing what you are doing…”

Irvine on January..... 
"I can’t say what will happen because one phone call can trigger everything. But I don’t see a huge amount of business. And we have got a very critical period coming up which I can imagine will require all of the squad to feature. 

"We are not a club which can add to the squad numbers. If we do acquire anyone then I can only imagine it will be after someone has gone out."

Irvine on the summer arrivals..... 
“I feel for those guys. I have said this from the outset but I don’t think people grasp just how significant it is. 

"They came in late and missed the pre-season and once you do that, it is so hard to catch up. It is a vicious circle – the lads who were here at the start got in the team to begin with and the players who came in late were left behind physically. 

"After that, the boys in the team get more and more match sharp while the lads not starting slip further behind. You get the occasional Under-21 game in which to play them but that’s miles away from Premier League levels. You might be 80, 90 per cent fit – but without that match sharpness the Premier League will find you out.”

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