West Bromwich Albion striker Charlie Austin has opened up on a conversation he had with Slaven Bilic, which convinced the 30-year-old to make the move to the Hawthorns on transfer deadline day.
Austin arrived at the Hawthorns from Premier League Southampton, having been frozen out of the first team under Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl, and the 30-year-old registered his first Championship goal for the club, in his seventh appearance, in West Brom’s 4-2 win at home to Cardiff City before the international break.
Bilic identified Austin as a key transfer target to bring in and replace some of the goals lost from the departures of both Jay Rodriguez and Dwight Gayle, and the 30-year-old has taken time to settle into the Baggies system, but his goal against Cardiff showed signs that he is beginning to get back to his best.
Speaking to Stan Collymore on his Last Word podcast, Austin revealed that he had offers from other clubs during the transfer window and was considering his options, before a conversation with Bilic persuaded him to join West Brom, saying “Talks had been going on in the afternoon with West Brom. Talks had been going on with several other clubs, are we going to do it, are we not?
“I spoke to my wife Bianca, I spoke to my dad. Then I spoke to the manager, and he sold it to me if I’m honest.
“He said Charlie how are you? We scored so many goals last year, so many balls in the box. I’m not going to change anything about you, I want you to come here, be my number nine and score me loads of goals like you have done in your career.
“He said I’ll get the service from the lads to you, and we’re going to have a good season together. I must’ve been on the phone two minutes and I put the phone down and said to my wife – I’m going to do it.”
Austin’s comments about how Bilic managed to persuade him to join the club in the summer, highlights how respected the West Brom manager is by his players – and that the Baggies’ boss knows how to get the best of the 30-year-old by giving him the service he thrives on.
Bilic has shown patience with Austin so far this season, with the striker not managing to score in his first six Championship appearances, before he scored against Cardiff last time and the 30-year-old’s comments offer evidence of how much faith that the Baggies’ boss has in him.
Austin will likely be a key figure for West Brom for the remainder of the season, and if he can build on his first league for the club and go on a run of form in front of goal, then the Baggies will have every chance of remaining inside the division’s top two places.