This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
West Bromwich Albion manager Slaven Bilic has come in for huge praise this week as former Chelsea left-back turned Sky Sports presenter Scott Minto has credited him for the start they’ve had in the Championship.
The Baggies sit on top spot in the division going into November’s international break with a two-point cushion over the chasing pack of Preston North End and Leeds United.
At an average of just over two points per game, Albion are well on track to hit, and maybe even surpass, the 92-point mark, which in four of the last five seasons has been enough to seal automatic promotion.
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Although that excludes other external factors, those in the west Midlands will be hoping that they can keep this rich vein of form up over the hectic Christmas schedule, then they’ll have every chance of returning to the promised land of the top-flight.
Minto, who won the FA Cup in 1997, has backed them to do it – all because of one man. He said:
“The biggest signing that West Brom made was Slaven Bilic.
“To get a manager like Bilic into a Championship club – first of all it shows the size of West Brom, secondly it gives great kudos to the standard of the Championship and the EFL, and thirdly to get him in and lose Jay Rodriguez and Dwight Gayle which was 45 goals between them and still be at the top end of the table is incredible.
“It’s still early days at the moment but Pereira, Diangana and Sawyers have added stardust to what was already a very good side.
“Once the strikers start scoring, it could be them plus one.”
The presenter of the Championship’s Sky Sports coverage could well be right.
West Brom have long had to suffer – both Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew have been in charge at the Hawthorns, but under the Croatian, they are undoubtedly playing a brand of football that’s never been seen before around these parts, not at least in a very long time.
It is that system that is paying dividends, and that all comes down to Bilic, so it’s a very fair assessment to say that he has been the signing of the summer.
His previous links to West Ham have helped garner a potential star in Grady Diangana, and while his strikers are yet to get fully off the mark, his recruitment has been spot on.
It all just centres around the decision to appoint Bilic in the summer – a masterstroke.