Soccer-West Brom axe coach Irvine after poor start

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* Irvine lasted just six months in the job * Second Premier League managerial casualty in a matter of days (Adds detail) Dec 29 (Reuters) - English Premier League strugglers West Bromwich Albion have sacked head coach Alan Irvine, the club announced on their website late on Monday. The Midlands club made the move following a run of seven losses in their past nine games, a series of results that has caused them to slide to 16th place, just one point above the relegation zone. Irvine becomes the second managerial casualty in three days after relegation-threatened Crystal Palace dumped Neil Warnock on Saturday. And with Alan Pardew in line to swap Newcastle for Palace, the Premier League managerial merry-go-round has suddenly gathered pace after an unusually quiet start to the season in which nobody was fired for the first four months. Irvine is the third head coach dismissed by West Brom in little over 12 months, following the short reigns of Steve Clarke and Pepe Mel. His fate was sealed after a 2-0 away defeat against Stoke on Sunday, which followed a 3-1 home loss to Manchester City two days earlier. "Securing a sixth season in the Premier League is the over-riding target and sometimes unpleasant decisions have to be taken to serve that imperative," Albion technical director Terry Burton says on the club's website. "Alan has impressed everyone with his manner, dedication and diligence but he knows that results have simply not been good enough." Irvine was surprise choice when he was hired as West Brom manager in June this year after the 56-year-old Scot had spent the previous three seasons as youth team coach at Everton. Bookmakers have installed former Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood as favourite to succeed Irvine with ex-Stoke and Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis close behind in the betting. West Brom travel to West Ham on New Year's Day with Rob Kelly, helped by fellow assistant head coach Keith Downing, in caretaker charge. (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by John O'Brien)