Irvine looks ahead to Everton and reflects on Albion's 2011/12 season
ALAN Irvine is determined to register his maiden Barclays Premier League victory as Albion head coach on Saturday - and insists the fact former employers Everton are the visitors to The Hawthorns does not come into it.
The Scot took over the Baggies reins in the summer after three years as Academy boss with the Toffees, his third stint at Goodison Park having been assistant manager to David Moyes for a successful five-and-a-half-year spell and previously appeared for the club during his playing days.
This weekend’s encounter promises to be a special one for Irvine, but he insists sentiment will be put to one side as he focuses fully on securing three points for Albion.
“The Everton fans have always been brilliant with me and whenever I go back there – the last time was Leon Osman’s testimonial – I get a lot of people stopping me in the street and saying hello,” he said.
“I am not necessarily sure they’ll make a big song and dance about me being in the other dugout but I certainly don’t expect a hostile reception.
“It’s a nice day for me, without a doubt.
“This isn’t the most important thing. The most important thing is the game itself, but from a personal point of view it’s a chance to compete against a club which is special to me.”
Irvine added: “It would be lovely to get the win, that’s for sure.
“It doesn’t make it any more special that it’s Everton – far from it.
“Obviously I am keen to win – not because it’s Everton but just because we need to get winning soon.”
Saturday’s clash could also pitch two Albion players against their former club in the shape of Joleon Lescott and Victor Anichebe – should they both be declared available and ready to feature.
Summer signing Lescott is yet to make his Baggies debut due to a knee injury while Anichebe missed the defeat at Swansea last time out due to a hernia problem.
The disappointing Liberty Stadium reverse came hot on the heels of back-to-back draws against Sunderland and Southampton, leaving the Black Country club with two points from their opening three games.
And although Irvine is desperately seeking his first league success of the season, he pointed to Albion’s fondly remembered 2011/12 season in which the club did the double over local rivals Wolves – including a famous 5-1 victory at Molineux – and recorded memorable away wins at Villa and Liverpool.
In that campaign, under Roy Hodgson, Albion lost each of their opening three Premier League fixtures, four of their first five and recorded just one solitary victory in the first seven matches.
“People have been telling me about one of the most successful recent seasons, under Roy, that it took a long time before he got his first win,” Irvine said.
“I’m hoping it doesn’t take us as long as it perhaps took Roy at that time but we all want to get that win under our belt as quickly as possible.”