Luke Dowling: Entertainment will still be high on the West Brom agenda
Luke Dowling insists Albion will continue to entertain and play attractive football in the Premier League – because that is the Slaven Bilic way.
But the technical director says the Baggies aren’t naive enough to think they won’t have to tailor their style when facing the division’s heavyweights.
Ever since Bilic took charge at The Hawthorns, Albion have played in a style that is pleasing on the eye with the likes of Matheus Pereira and Grady Diangana given the freedom to flourish.
Now – having won promotion back to the Premier League last week – the club is busy preparing for life back in what is arguably the world’s toughest division.
Dowling, though, says it’s important Albion’s fans continue to be entertained.
“We will be playing the same type of football we played this year because that is how Slaven wants to play,” the technical director said.
“We have to be sensible at times. We aren’t going to go up against Man City and say ‘let’s go and play’ because, without being negative, we’ll probably get beat.
“We want to do it the right way and enjoy it. But we have also got a job to do and that is to win as many football games as possible and stay in the league.
“But it will be enjoyable for our supporters to watch, I can guarantee that.”
Dowling knew he wanted Bilic to be Albion’s head coach following their very first meeting at Heathrow airport.
And he says the Croatian’s personality was crucial in lifting the club after the Baggies were beaten in the play-offs by Villa at the end of the 2018/19 campaign.
“Getting Slaven into the club gave everyone a real lift,” Dowling continued.
“We had just been knocked out in the play-off semi-finals to Villa – our rivals.
“And then we lost Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez, who scored 46 goals between them.
“We also lost Mason Holgate who has gone on to do great at Everton.
“We lost Craig Dawson who went on to play every week for Watford in the Premier League.
“Harvey Barnes was with us for the first half of that season – a player who has done great with Leicester.
“So we had to get someone who would lift spirits and make the players we had better because that is what we want as well.
“Jake Livermore’s gone a bit flat, Kyle Bartley, Hal Robson-Kanu.
“We wanted someone that could come in with a fresh pair of eyes.
“The Championship was new to Slaven. He knows the English league and what it is like, but managing in the Championship was new to him.
“And we wanted someone that would just grab the bull by the horns because we were feeling sorry for ourselves a bit last summer.
“Players were leaving, we hadn’t made it – we thought we would get promoted last year.
“A lot of people have said, if you look on paper, we probably had a better squad player for player last year.
“But this year we haven’t had to go through the play-offs. We’ve gone up in the top two.
“But Slaven and the way he is, he has got an aura about him.
“The way he handles himself and the way he handles the players – he has been the biggest factor.”