Express & Star

Slaven Bilic: Defensive work key to West Brom success

Head coach Slaven Bilic says instilling a hunger to defend into his attacking players has been key to Albion’s success this season.

Slaven Bilic head coach / manager of West Bromwich Albion (AMA)

The Baggies consistently played attractive and entertaining football before football was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bilic believes the personal in his squad lends to playing in an attacking way. But he says Albion have been successful because everyone knows their defensive roles.

And he also feels a tactical tweak – which saw the team switch from a 4-2-3-1 formation to 4-3-3 in February – has also made his side more solid.

“If you have (Filip) Krovinovic, if you have (Matheus) Pereira, if you have Grady (Diangana), if you have Matt Phillips, if you have a striker, if you have Romaine Sawyers and Darnell (Furlong) and (Kieran) Gibbs or Conor Townsend at full-back – then your intention, or your plan at least, has to lean towards being more offensive than defensive,” Bilic said.

“Because we have got those players, the art is to make them work hard and to make them crazy in their determination to defend.

“Our plan was always to try and play good football and be successful.

“We changed the system a bit – and the results show – that it didn’t make us less offensive when we are on the ball.

“But at the same time, it made us a bit more solid when we are without the ball – no matter which part of the pitch we lost the ball.

“But a lot of defending is about the hungriness of the players and their determination to give everything for the cause.”