West Bromwich Albion midfielder Romaine Sawyers has suggested that Slaven Bilic’s experience and ability to command respect from the Baggies squad was a major reason why they were able to secure automatic promotion this term.
Bilic arrived at the Hawthorns last summer replacing Darren Moore after the Baggies just missed out on promotion last term having been edged out by Aston Villa in the play-off semi-finals, and the former West Ham manager helped to add some real quality to the squad in the transfer market and get the best out of his side.
One of those additions was Sawyers who arrived back at the Hawthorns from Brentford, and the midfielder became one of the most influential performers for the Baggies having averaged one of the best pass completion records in the division in his deep midfield role alongside Jake Livermore.
The ultimate West Bromwich Albion end of season quiz – Can you get 14/14?
Speaking to the Express and Star, Sawyers revealed that Bilic has been the perfect manager to get the best put of him on his return to the Baggies and that his approach to things around the training ground has made him an incredibly important figure around the club.
He said: “With everything he (Bilic) has achieved in football, the respect is already there.
“When he talks you listen and I think everyone will vouch for that in the dressing room.
“He is one of those managers that nobody has a bad word to say about.
“I think Barts (Kyle Bartley) has touched on it in the past.
“Even players that aren’t in the squad or aren’t playing – there is nobody who will say a bad word about him.
“Anyone who has been in football will know that when a player is out of the team they tend to be critical of the manager. But I don’t think ‘SB’ gets that at all.”
“There are times when I stay after training when I go and speak to him or when he pulls me aside.
“We have got a great working relationship. He is passionate about football. I am passionate about football.
“He wants the club to go in the right direction and I want it to go in the right direction for many personal reasons.
“I think we’ve come together at a good time in my career, he’s has been great for me.”
Sawyers is not the first West Brom player to come out and heap praise on Bilic’s influence behind the scenes with the Baggies, and you suspect that almost everyone in the squad would echo these kinds of comments which shows just how strong the togetherness is around the squad and coaching staff.
There would have been pressure on Bilic to get the job done over the latter part of the season, but Sawyers’ comments suggest that he was still able to remain calm and instil confidence in his players which ultimately proved to be enough to get them over the line when the campaign resumed.
Bilic has had a real impact on Sawyers’ own personal performances having converted him into more of a sitting midfielder where he can get on the ball and dictate the tempo of matches, and that has seen the midfielder flourish and show just why the Baggies brought him to the club last summer.