West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone has suggested that the Baggies’ squad are enjoying working under new manager Slaven Bilic, and are getting to grips with his methods and demands.
The Baggies have made an excellent start to the season, suffering just a single league defeat so far at fellow high-flyers Leeds United, and Bilic’s side have managed to show real character throughout their opening eleven league games often coming from behind to pick up vital points.
Bilic arrived at the Hawthorns this summer, needing to pick up his players after they suffered a defeat in the play-off semi-finals to eventual winners Aston Villa last season, and he also needed to find a solution after losing the likes of Jay Rodriguez, Dwight Gayle and Michael Dawson in the summer, which he has managed to do with some shrewd additions in the transfer window.
Johnstone has been a key performer for West Brom in the opening weeks of the season, helping to his side stay in matches by making some key saves at times when opposing sides have been on the front foot – and the 26-year-old is beginning to show his full potential under Bilic’s coaching.
Speaking to the Express and Star, Johnstone has praised Bilic’s methods and the way in which he has settled into life at the Hawthorns, saying “Everyone loves coming into training every day because we all enjoy working under a manager who believes in us and gives us the confidence to go out and perform at our best.
“He has a really clear way of speaking to all the players.
“You can tell that when he is trying to give us a message or an instruction in training or before games, he has the full attention of absolutely everyone in the room.
“He trusts you with everything. To give 100 per cent effort in training and games and to also look after yourself properly away from football.”
Johnstone’s comments highlight the respect that West Brom’s players have for Bilic, and that is something that has been evident in their start to the season, which has seen the Baggies secure 22 points to move to the top of the Championship table following the opening eleven games of the season.
Bilic has managed to get West Brom’s players performing to their maximum in the opening weeks of the campaign, and is helping key players like Johnstone show their top form, which has seen the 26-year-old manage to pull off some crucial saves at big moments to help the Baggies go onto pick up some vital points.
West Brom have shown no hangover from last season’s frustrations of missing out on promotion back to the Premier League, which has seen the Baggies make a real statement of intent at the start of the campaign – and Bilic deserves real credit for the way he has brought the squad together and got them performing as a real unit so far.