Sheffield Wednesday has today appointed Alan Irvine to lead the club on a 3-and-a-half-year contract. The 51-year-old Scotsman enjoyed a long career as a player but it is his coaching/managerial credentials that have enabled him to take the reigns at Hillsborough.
The Glaswegian winger made over 300 first team appearances North and South of the border for Queens Park, Everton, Crystal Palace, Dundee United and Blackburn before moving into coaching as part of the academy at Ewood Park and later took on a similar role at Newcastle United.
Irvine stature then rose as he became assistant manager to David Moyes at Premier League side Everton in 2002. In his five years as number two at the Merseyside giants the club enjoyed two top six finishes in the league, qualifying for the UEFA Champions League as a result of this in 2005.
Prior to the arrival of Moyes and Irvine at the club Everton had spent the previous 5 seasons outside the top twelve in the Premier League, often too close for comfort to the relegation zone.
Have built up a fine reputation as a number two Irvine took the plunge into first team management in 2007 when he was appointed manager of Preston North End. At the time of his appointment Preston were languishing near the foot of the Championship table with over a third of the season played, a not too dissimilar situation to the one he now finds himself in at S6. After an inauspicious start of three straight defeats Irvine steered the club to safety and they finished comfortably clear of the relegation zone despite not winning any of their final five league matches.
With a fresh start in 2008/09 Irvine guided North End to the play-offs in his first full season on a limited budget in comparison with some of the clubs around them where they lost out in the semi-finals to Sheffield United.
Preston got off to a solid start this season and victory at Hillsborough in mid-October had them sitting in a play-off position. From that point onwards their form dipped as they picked up just one win in the next ten matches though it still came as something as a surprise when the board lost patience and dismissed Irvine at the end of December with the club in a mid-table position in a very competitive Championship table.