Jones: Baggies have sobered up after relegation from Premier League

West Bromwich Albion boss Slaven Bilic
West Bromwich Albion boss Slaven Bilic

Town chief Graeme Jones believes that West Bromwich Albion have sobered up to life in the Championship ahead of their trip to Kenilworth Road this afternoon.

The Baggies were relegated in the 2017-18 campaign, finishing fourth in their first season back in the second tier last term, losing in the play-offs over two legs to Aston Villa.

Jones had been part of the management team attempting to win promotion back to the Premier League, assistant to Darren Moore, before they were harshly sacked in March.

Albion have picked up four points from their opening two games of the season this time around, as Jones said: “This division is quite sobering, you have to sober up quite quickly as it’s so competitive, it doesn’t give any respect to names or sizes of your club, size of the audience or the badge you’re wearing.

“It’s 11 out of the pitch and I think the boys at West Brom are a really good group of boys.

“I really enjoyed working the lads there, they know that, they’ll be competitive on Saturday and every game this season, I’ve got no doubt about that.”

With Slaven Bilic in charge at the Hawthorns now, Jones knows full well from his own experience, that going up is all that is expected from whoever is in charge of Albion.

He still remains proud that both he and Moore had put the Baggies in a position to achieve that during their eight months at the club.

Jones continued: “Well, fourth wasn’t good enough, is the truth, so I’m like anybody with high standards, but I think taking any job of any relegated club, is not easy.

“It’s probably one of the most difficult tasks that I’ve been involved in in football.

“But I think after relegation that you have to deal with, players that have been used to being Premier League players and then find themselves as Championship players, it’s a difficult task.

“We were really proud of our work as to make West Brom competitive until March was one of the best things that I’ve been involved in to change that.

“So it’s not easy, but West Brom as a football club expect to be in the Premier League, that’s their standards.

"They are a Premier League club in stature, a wonderful football club, great support, they turn up in their numbers every week, it was a difficult task, but I definitely think we got the club competitive.”

Tasked with leading the Baggies back to the top flight now is former Croatia and West Ham boss Bilic.

When asked about taking on his opposite number, Jones added: “I came across his West Ham team in the Premier League.

“We were 2-0 up with 10 men at Everton and Aaron Lennon got a bit of an injury, so we had to take him off.

"It really affected us and we ended up losing the game 3-2, Dimitri Payet was very influential that day,.

"He's an experienced manager, he’s worked at the top level for a long, long time.

"I can see him now manager of Croatia when they beat England in 2007 for the 2008 Euros, but they were a really, really good Croatian team, so Slav’s goe tonnes of experience.

“Unless I’m mistaken, as a player, semi-final for the World Cup in France 98, we’re talking about a guy who’s been there, seen it and done it.

"His pedigree is outstanding and when I’ve come across him, he’s been a real likeable fella,

"So I'm just looking forward to the game, it will be a difficult game for everybody, but one we’re capable of winning, we have to know that, same as every game."