Slaven Bilic says West Brom spell ‘will stay in my heart forever’ in first interview following appointment as new Beijing Guoan manager

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Slaven Bilic insists he will always look back on his spell as West Brom manager as one of the best periods of his career, as the former boss prepares to move to China.

The coach joined talkSPORT on Wednesday for his first interview since being appointed the new manager of Chinese Super League club Beijing Guoan.

Bilic has wasted little time in securing his next job, landing a role in the Far East less than a month after his departure from the Hawthorns.

The 52-year-old Croatian was given the boot by the Baggies in December, with Sam Allardyce coming in as his replacement in a bid to save West Brom’s season after collecting just seven points from 13 games.

Bilic says there are no hard feelings over his exit, though, and reveals he ‘only wants the best’ for the club and its fans.

And he also sent a sincere thank you message to his former players, for their work and dedication during his year-and-a-half in charge, which saw the club promoted back to the Premier League from the Championship.

Bilic says he will look back on his West Brom spell with nothing more than fondness after guiding the club back to the Premier League

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Bilic says he will look back on his West Brom spell with nothing more than fondness after guiding the club back to the Premier League

Asked if he thinks West Brom will stay in the Premier League under Allardyce, Bilic – one of the true nice guys in football – told talkSPORT host Jim White: “I hope they will.

“It will be difficult, but for me the team has changed a lot since the beginning of the season, we were improving a lot, we were competitive in every game and hopefully Sam will continue to do it now.

“The gap is not too big, but the form has to improve. It would be important to bring in a few more players to strengthen the squad.”

Asked if there is any bitterness over his West Brom departure, the coach said: “Not at all, I’m not annoyed.

“And I have to use this opportunity to thank the players, who were brilliant from day one to the last day.

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“We’ve been through great times, through the Championship, got promoted, went through COVID, then to the Premier League where we’ve had some knock downs, but we never had one single problem with attitudes in the dressing room and on the training pitch, we never lost motivation.

“The players were brilliant and I feel for them now and I want the best for them and the fans.

“Things happen in football, but I will always remember West Brom as a great part of my career, because of the things we achieved in the first year. It was not in our plans to do it [secure promotion] in our first season and it was quite remarkable.

“It will stay in my heart and my mind forever.”

On his move to China, Bilic admits the money on offer was a big factor over his decision to accept the job.

But he also insisted he wanted to join a big club in the Far East, and is excited to pack up his things and get to work at Beijing Guoan.

“It feels good,” added Bilic.

“It’s happened quickly, to have another job it feels exciting, now I have to pack things and all that, which is not the best part, but I’m glad.

“It’s what I wanted and I’m looking forward to a big challenge.

Bilic admits it wasn’t his or West Brom’s plan to seal promotion last season – calling it a ‘remarkable’ achievement

getty

Bilic admits it wasn’t his or West Brom’s plan to seal promotion last season – calling it a ‘remarkable’ achievement

“It’s a big club, it’s a good contract.

“I didn’t have a plan [to go to China]. I had the opportunity to go there when I left West Ham and it was always a very attractive destination for a few reasons; of course the finances are important but also what was important for me was the size of the club, and I’m going to a massive club there.

“So I was ready to go two years ago and it didn’t happen, but it’s happening now. It was always one of the destinations I considered.”





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