West Brom comment: Slaven Bilic shouldn’t let fine curb his enthusiasm
When Slaven Bilic was appointed head coach, Albion fans were arguably more excited about his charisma than his managerial record.
A passionate man easy to warm to, Bilic has lived up to his reputation so far, instantly connecting with the fanbase thanks to his likeable brand of forthright honesty.
An unbeaten start to the league season has undoubtedly helped, not to mention an encouraging platform that just needs a final flourish.
On Saturday, this burgeoning cult of personality went up another notch when Bilic was sent to the stands at Derby.
It took just three weeks, but if anything, it has only cemented his bond with the fans. When a player is shown red, they let their team down, but when a manager is shown red, the impact on the pitch is not so detrimental.
Bilic will be back in the dugout this Saturday for the home game against Blackburn.
The Football Association belatedly charged him on Wednesday morning, despite it being after the three-day deadline since the incident.
But Albion’s head coach has accepted the charge and a regulation fine, so will escape a touchline ban.
Hopefully this does not temper his passion on the sidelines or in the press room.
After the game, he was deliciously torn. “I have to calm myself down a bit,” he admitted.
“On the other hand... West Brom is expecting me to voice my opinion, who will voice the opinion if it’s not the manager?”
In that moment, Bilic struck at the heart of what has been missing in recent years.
Being passionate and fighting the club’s corner does not win games, but it is important.
Despite being Albion boss for the best part of three years, it always felt like Tony Pulis was passing through.
“I’m just a custodian,” he would say, pointing to the storied history of the club. But to the fans, it sounded like it meant little more than a job.
Darren Moore cared deeply about the club, but his ice-cool persona and deliberate attempts to play down every issue was at odds with the naturally fervent and fanatical nature of supporters.
In Bilic, Albion fans seem to have found a leader with the same fire in his belly they have.
That doesn’t mean they will encourage him to get sent off every week, but the last thing he should do now is curb his enthusiasm. Fight on Slaven.