The hulking presence of Slaven Bilic on the Hawthorns touchline still has Mark Jenkins pinching himself, with the West Brom chief executive telling the Birmingham Mail that the Croatian is a coach of Premier League quality.
Just eight months after made his return to English shores, Bilic is already firmly established as one of the more popular managers in West Brom’s history.
The former West Ham and Croatia boss has always been a charismatic figure with a personality even larger than his 6ft 2ins frame, but it is his astute tactical awareness and excellent man-management which has The Baggies four points clear at the top of the Championship table.
And Jenkins, who has worked with the likes of Roy Hodgson, Tony Pulis and Roberto di Matteo in the Midlands, is confident that the club have a ‘special man’ at the helm these days.
“You don’t want to speak about all the other managers you have worked with but Slaven is definitely one of the most engaging and personable,” Jenkins said.
"We managed to get him and you think ‘that’s good’, but after two or three months you really do think ‘how did we get him – why is he here and not at a Premier League club?!’
“He is just a really good bloke. I know has proved a huge hit with our fans not only for the quality of football he has crafted from the team but for the bearings he brings to the post.”
Bilic not only has an excellent relationship with those on the pitch and in the stands. The 51-year-old, it seems, has succeeded in charming the Baggies board too.
"In all my years in the game, Slaven is the only manager I have known take the trouble to pop down the corridor to the offices of the CEO to personally thank him for all the support and efforts taken to sign the players,” Jenkins adds.
“I felt then that we had a special man in the head coach’s office, and I know our fans feel the same.”
West Brom’s CEO might be baffled by the Bilic-shaped hole in the Premier League but, as long as The Baggies maintain their recent form over the next three months, one of the game’s most likeable coaches will be back in the big time sooner rather than later.
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