Alan Irvine, the new West Bromwich Albion head coach, has urged sceptical supporters to give him time to succeed at the Hawthorns and confirmed that the club are in talks with Joleon Lescott about a potential transfer.
Irvine, appointed by West Brom on Saturday, served for five years as David Moyes’ assistant manager at Everton and previously managed Preston North End and Sheffield Wednesday, but some fans have argued his appointment represents a lack of ambition from Albion.
The 55-year-old has signed a 12-month rolling contract with the club and brings with him Rob Kelly as assistant, alongside the existing coaches Keith Downing and Dean Kiely, after Tim Sherwood initially turned town the job because he wanted to bring in his own backroom staff.
Irvine has said that his squad needs strengthening before the new Premier League season, which starts at home to Sunderland on 16 August, and hopes to lure Lescott to the club having worked with the defender at Everton.
“There’s an interest in Joleon, without a doubt,” Irvine said. “I believe negotiations are going very well at this particular moment. Joleon is a player I know well, I obviously had a number of years with him at Everton. I remember him even before we signed him at Everton.
“I’ve had a great working relationship with Joleon in the past. He’s a great character, great personality and a terrific professional. The more of those we can have the better. Joleon has said he would be more than happy to work with me again. If that helps then fantastic.”
Lescott is out of contract after leaving Manchester City and has attracted interest from a number of clubs, including West Ham and Hull City.
Asked about his appointment, in the wake of Pepe Mel’s departure, Irvine said: “Clearly there are many, many issues as far as signing players are concerned. Give us all the chance to show we can do the job. I understand I wouldn’t have been the name on everyone’s lips.
“I don’t think any manager or head coach would dispute that we stand and fall by results. My passion is for coaching. I took my first management job because I wanted to coach more.
“I was David’s assistant for five-and-a-half years and I was heavily involved in everything which happened at Everton but David was very hands on and I was very passionate to coach.
“That’s what inspires me. I am also extremely thorough, hardworking and diligent. I will try everything I possibly can to bring success to the club.”
Meanwhile, West Ham United have completed the signing of the Senegalese midfielder Cheikhou Kouyaté on a four-year deal from the Belgian side Anderlecht.
Kouyaté, 24, can also play in defence and joins for an undisclosed fee understood to be in the region of £7m. He becomes Sam Allardyce’s second signing this summer after the arrival of Mauro Zárate.
He said: “That I’m here now is thanks to the manager, because he convinced me. I’m big, quick and athletic, so a box-to-box midfielder.”