Slaven Bilic says West Brom is the biggest challenge of his career
Last Updated: 24/06/19 11:57pm
West Brom head coach Slaven Bilic says his new job is the biggest challenge of his career as he attempts to guide the club to promotion back to the Premier League.
The 50-year-old took over at the Hawthorns last week with the club set to embark on another bid for promotion after defeat to Aston Villa in the play-off semi-final last season.
"It is the biggest challenge so far in my career," Bilic told Sky Sports News. "Many people appreciate this and told me well done this is a great job. But some people are like why? Why did you go to West Brom?
"I don't have to give any excuses for my moves and I don't have to talk about the size of the club. This is a great opportunity for me.
"I don't think about the Premier League and see this job for me to be in the shop window. I think about West Brom. I like it here."
Bilic only had one managerial job after being sacked by West Ham in November 2017 - a brief five-month spell in charge of Saudi Arabain side Al-Ittihad which he was also fired from after winning just three of his 15 matches in charge. But it was during his time in the Middle East that Bilic decided he wanted to manage in the Championship.
"I remember watching Leeds against Forest," he said. "I think I was in Saudi and I was watching the game and I told my assistant I have to tick this box.
"This is the league. This is the essence. During my life I would like to do it. I would like to experience it. It is a different league. It is the essence of football.
"I'm not saying it's better than the Premier League. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about how good this challenge is for me at the right time and I really wanted it now."
Bilic's desire to manage in the Championship meant he turned down a number of other jobs to join West Brom.
"Some of the offers were from national teams," he added. "Good ones. Some of the clubs were from leagues that are maybe better than this one.
"Some were not offers - some were talks. Make no mistake I didn't have offers to go to big, big clubs but also, I didn't have to come here."
Darren Moore, Bilic's predecessor, was sacked by West Brom in March, despite the club being fourth in the Championship at the time.
The season ended in play-off semi-final defeat to Aston Villa but Bilic insists he can deal with the pressure on him to deliver promotion in the upcoming campaign.
"The size of the club brings a pressure by itself," the Croatian said. "If you want to have the privilege and enjoy being part of West Bromwich Albion then also it brings pressure with it. So the pressure is there.
"In today's football, for the manager pressure is not a problem, especially for ex-players that played under pressure. You can't expect to have such a good job and such a high-profile job without having the pressure."
With the opening weekend of the season less than six weeks away, Bilic is well aware of what he needs to do to make sure his side are ready.
"We've got work to do before the season starts," he said, "We have to be prepared for everything. Whatever is within our budget, we're going to do our best to keep the players we want to keep. But we have to be, at the same time, prepared that some of them may go.
"Our budget is good for a Championship team. Our budget is well enough to make a good team that can, with a little bit of luck in the transfer window, compete for promotion."
While Bilic is confident he has the budget to deliver a competitive West Brom side, he also acknowledged the young players at the Hawthorns could play a big part in the club's fortunes this season.
"I like to work with young players," he added. "I gave some young players a chance not only in Croatia but also at West Ham or in Russia and Turkey.
"Do we have some good young prospects in the club? Yes, definitely yes. Some of them are still very young, amazingly young, but they have been there for a couple of seasons already and they didn't make the improvement so I hope and I expect from them to hit it big this season.
"There's nothing better than when you put a young player in the team and he makes it. Especially if he's a local. It's better than any signing in the world. Like Declan Rice at West Ham or Reece Oxford when he came or those kind of players."