West Bromwich Albion go into the new season having secured the services of Alan Irvine as their new manager, an appointment which is as big a risk as appointing Pepe Mel, if not bigger. Irvine is probably best known for the assistant roles he had alongside David Moyes at Preston and Everton but certainly not for his managerial forays as he has never particularly pulled up any trees. If there was a place he could be seen to have been harshly treated it was perhaps Preston as he guided them from a relegation battle to the play-off places of the Championship in 2008-09 before being sacked but at a following spell in charge of Sheffield Wednesday he oversaw the club's relegation from the Championship to League One and was sacked the following season with the club lying in twelfth place in the third tier.

Irvine has spent the last few years coaching Everton's youth team but nothing on his CV will give West Brom fans great confidence that he can keep them safe from relegation and for his sake he will be hoping his side get off to a good start as he has a job to do to win the many sceptical fans around.

Last season West Brom were flattered quite frankly to finish in seventeenth place, escaping relegation by just three points. The side's biggest problem came in defence shipping almost sixty goals but greater problems lie elsewhere. The home form at the Hawthorns was notably poor, winning just four games all season and there was very little to excite the fans. The biggest positive to have come from their performances was perhaps the emergence of Saido Berahino who provided some desperately needed attacking flair whilst Victor Anichebe came into the side after January and made a positive impact which included scoring a late equalizer against Chelsea in a 1-1 draw.

Ahead of the new season Joleon Lescott has joined the club and it will not hurt to have his experience in the Premier League on side, even if cheering on a former Wolves player may take some getting used to for West Brom fans, and he will hope to help sure up their defence. Arguably the most important bit of business is signing Chris Brunt up for another three years as he is a proven performer who has played around thirty or more games a season with West Brom in the Championship and Premier League and clearly has the club at heart.

From the first blow of the referee's whistle next week signalling kick off at home to Sunderland everybody at the club needs to be pulling in the same direction and has to try to be patient with the players and importantly the manager who has taken on a tricky job and one for which I fear will see the club remain rooted in a relegation battle throughout the year.

A manager can only pick eleven players to take to the field each week and ultimately it is they who are responsible for what takes place on the pitch but there is no doubt in my mind that it will only be a matter of time before Alan Irvine comes under pressure and a difficult campaign may lie ahead. 2014-15 Prediction: 20th (relegated).