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Slaven Bilic vows to improve West Brom after being seduced by 'pure football' of the Championship

By Matt Wilson | West Bromwich Albion | Published: | Last Updated:

Slaven Bilic has promised to make the Baggies a better team after being seduced by the 'pure essence' of Championship football.

At his official unveiling today, Albion's new boss said he chose The Hawthorns over a number of other offers.

The former West Ham boss is desperate to sink his teeth into the challenge of England's second tier, saying it was on his 'bucket list'.

But he also revealed that when he left his former club Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia four months ago, he wrote down a list of teams he wanted to manage and the Baggies were on it.

"The Championship was always on my bucket list," he said. "Since I came back here in 2015 you can feel the size of the Championship. And to be fair it is a very big league in Europe.

"My friends in Croatia watch it. I watched it in Saudi Arabia.

"I told my assistant at some stage in my career I have to try it. But it is not only me, I am not some weird manager.

"There are many coaches (that want to try it). It is pure football, pure essence. You have so many big, traditional clubs, who have great grounds.

"If you are playing for promotion then you are playing for something incredible. So it is very tempting.

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"I’m not going to lie I didn’t have top, top clubs (after me), but I had other things (on offer) and I wanted to come here. I like it here.

"I was flying back from Saudi Arabia and wrote on a newspaper some names of clubs I wanted to manage, maybe eight.

"Two days ago I got it out and showed my wife, one was West Brom."

Bilic is also prepared for the wildly unpredictable nature of England's second tier and the relentless slog of 46 games.

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"That’s what makes it attractive," he says. "It is intense, crazy. There are so many games, so many big clubs.

"That you had a good start doesn’t mean a lot, because sooner of later someone is going to hit you and you have a bad run. You try to be consistent, it is the great challenge."

He met his players for the first time yesterday, but is aware that the squad he has now could look different to the one he starts the season with.

“If you ask any manager, we’d all like to start pre-season with the squad that we’re going to start the season with," he said.

“Unfortunately it’s not like that, and you can’t blame the club. Not everything is in your hands.

“Paris Saint Germain has all the money in the world, but it's not just about that.

"This is what we have, but in a week’s time we could be in a situation where we aren’t going to have it."

However, he has vowed to improve Albion on the pitch, after being tasked by technical director Luke Dowling to deliver progress.

“I can say this – and people know that I’m not big-headed _ but I’m going to make the team better. I can’t make the team 100 times better, but I'll make it better.

“The situation is positive, and the place is buzzing for the first day.

"We’re going to work hard, they’re going to enjoy it, we’re going to try and keep the players, if somebody goes we’re not going to cry, we’re going to get somebody to replace him, and maybe even better than him.”

Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson
Football MMPJ - @mattwilson_star

Sports reporter at the Express & Star, who primarily covers West Bromwich Albion.

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