Irvine: We'll block Berahino bids
Published 17/08/2014 | 13:56
West Brom boss Alan Irvine has warned rival clubs they have no chance of prising Saido Berahino from his grasp this month.
The highly-rated 21-year-old underlined his talent with both Baggies goals in their season-opening 2-2 draw with Sunderland in the Barclays Premier League.
The England Under-21 striker caught the eye with nine goals last season and Irvine is anticipating more this term.
The downside to headline-grabbing performances is that other managers might be alerted to make a move before the end of the summer transfer deadline, but Irvine is confident the club would not consider a sale.
Irvine said: "I think everybody should know about him already, but I can't see any way this club would be interested in letting Saido go. You can't let top young English talented players go.
"It could be a very big season for him. He is a terrific lad, he is very talented and he works very hard at his game. He is a pleasure to work with.
"He has got a love for football and with the talent and professional attitude he has got, I think he could be a very good player for this season and beyond."
Irvine himself is under pressure to hit the ground running at the Hawthorns having been the club's surprise choice as new head coach.
The Scot was David Moyes' assistant for five years at Everton but his only previous spells as a manager, at Preston and Sheffield Wednesday, were outside the top flight.
His reign did not start well as Lee Cattermole fired Sunderland ahead with a superb long-range strike after just five minutes.
But the hosts then settled and deserved their equaliser before the break, although it came in fortuitous circumstances after the award of a contentious penalty.
Valentin Roberge was adjudged to have fouled Victor Anichebe despite only minimal contact and even Irvine admitted the decision was "soft".
Berahino struck from the spot and added a second after 74 minutes but Sebastian Larsson snatched a point for the Black Cats by rounding off a fine move five minutes from time.
Irvine said: "The first game of the season is always special because you've spent a long time working towards it.
"But it was special for me as well, to do it in the Premier League was something different. The actual occasion was similar to a big game elsewhere."
Record £10million signing Brown Ideye did not get off the bench.
Irvine said of the Nigerian: "He's been with us for a week. He is in good condition physically but I think it would be a big ask for him, physically and in understanding what we need him to do.
"He is still getting to know the names of everyone. It is asking a lot to throw someone into a Premier League game at that point."
The contest, between two of last season's relegation battlers, was an entertaining affair.
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet was pleased with the resilience of his side and saw marked improvement in their attitude.
He said: "Last year, after conceding the second goal, maybe we would have collapsed and conceded three or four.
"There is a little bit better, stronger mentality in the team.
"If you see the reaction of the players on the pitch when we score and the celebration, coming back and trying to go again, I think it is a good sign for the future."
Poyet gave a debut to his £10million midfielder Jack Rodwell, who is looking to rekindle the early promise he showed at Everton after two frustrating seasons at Manchester City.
The 23-year-old played 68 minutes before being replaced by Jordi Gomez.
Poyet said: "He started well and then we killed him for 20 minutes without the ball. We made him only defend, which of course is going to help us, but we need to give him the ball.
"In the second half I was very pleased - (it was) the Jack Rodwell we want to see, driving with the ball, getting to the edge of the box, winning (the ball), turning, passing.
"I was tempted to leave him on the pitch for a bit longer but I think it was enough and I think he will get better and better."