Valerien Ismael insists he can handle West Brom heat

Valerien Ismael is relishing the pressure and expectation that comes with being Albion boss.

Valerien Ismael head coach / manager of West Bromwich Albion.
Valerien Ismael head coach / manager of West Bromwich Albion.

The 45-year-old was named as the Baggies’ new head coach last month after putting pen to paper on a four-year deal at The Hawthorns.

A manager with a clear playing style, his first aim is to implement his counter-pressing philosophy at the club.

But while Ismael wants to give Albion a new identity, he also knows the team is expected to challenge for promotion next season.

The boss defied the odds to take Barnsley into the Championship play-offs last year.

But at Albion, a top-six finish will be the minimum requirement with most fans expecting the team to compete for automatic promotion.

Ismael, though, insists it is that pressure that has lured him to The Hawthorns.

The former defender is no stranger to expectation having previously played for Bayern Munich.

And he says he joined Albion to compete for a place in the Premier League and because of the vision of chief executive Xu Ke, who is known as Ken, has for the club.

“It was the opportunity and the discussions I had with Ken – his vision,” Ismael said when asked why he accepted the Albion job.

“I had a great feeling, that was clear.

“I think this club is the next step for me.

“And I am ready for it, I’m ready for more possibility, for more expectation.

“The vision and to be involved in the race for promotion, that’s why I am here.”

Ismael says he’s been hugely impressed with the set-up at Albion ever since taking charge.

“Everything is a high standard,” he continued.

“It was my expectation that would be the case, it’s what I expected coming into a Premier League club.

“The atmosphere around the club — I’ve already met a lot of people and seen how dedicated and committed they are to the club.

“There is a positive atmosphere around the club and that has given me a good feeling when I have started to work.

“It’s a restart, a new beginning.

“Things are going to be different but we have a clear vision of what we want to achieve with the team and with the club.”

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