Sack looms for Irvine as fans vent anger after Stoke defeat

Stoke 2 West Brom 0

Sack looms for Irvine as fans vent anger after Stoke defeat

The defeat was the Baggies’ seventh in nine Premier League games and they finish 2014 in 16th place, a point above the relegation zone.

Away supporters at the Britannia Stadium hurled flak at Irvine after the final whistle as he made his way towards the tunnel, and the Scot stressed in his post-match press conference he could understand their frustration.

Despite the vitriol, Irvine, only appointed over the summer, remains determined to turn things around.

Asked if he still felt he would be in his job by the new year, Irvine said: “I hope so, but I’m not in control of that, so I don’t know. I believe I am (capable of turning things around) and I think the players believe we can as well.”

Regarding the criticism he received from the stands, Irvine commented: “I can understand that people are frustrated – I’m frustrated, and so are the players. I can understand fans expressing that frustration. That is the nature of the job.

“I am bitterly disappointed as well – it means an awful lot to me, and I know it means an awful lot to them.”

West Brom had been putting in a creditable away performance – without converting it into goals – when Mame Biram Diouf broke the deadlock in the 51st minute with a shot that took a slight deflection off Joleon Lescott. Gareth McAuley came close to equalising as he prodded the ball against the post just after the hour mark, and moments later, Diouf made it 2-0, Marko Arnautovic’s shot ricocheting off the Senegal forward fortunately to deceive Ben Foster.

“Back-to-back wins is really important, and clean sheets as well – that is encouraging for us,” Stoke boss Mark Hughes said, his side climbing into the top half.

“It was difficult for both teams to be fair (playing so soon after doing so on Boxing Day), and probably in the first half we lacked a little bit of sharpness. But, in the second- half, we showed more energy and then scored the first goal, which I thought was always going to be very important.”

Hughes admitted it will be a blow losing Diouf – now with six Stoke goals this term – to African Nations Cup duty in early 2015.

“It is a little bit frustrating,” the manager said. “We are going too miss him, but hopefully they (Senegal) get knocked out quickly!”

STOKE: Begovic, Cameron, Shawcross, Muniesa, Pieters, Nzonzi, Whelan (Wilson 85), Arnautovic, Bojan (Adam 78), Diouf, Crouch (Walters 63).

WEST BROM: Foster, Wisdom, McAuley, Lescott, Baird, Brunt, Morrison (Varela 63),Dorrans (Mulumbu 80),Gardner, Sessegnon (Berahino 63), Ideye.

Referee: Roger East

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