‘Freedom’ a result of Bilić ‘trust’ - Pereira

Matheus Pereira has brought the swashbuckling style of the samba to The Hawthorns but says Albion’s free-flowing football is a direct result of the “trust” Slaven Bilić affords his players.

The Brazilian netted one and assisted two as the Baggies returned to top spot in the Sky Bet Championship with a scintillating 4-2 win over Cardiff City on Saturday. 

And speaking with a smile as his agent Emmanuel translates, Matheus admits he’s felt at home since first arriving on a season-long loan from Sporting on transfer deadline day.  

“The way the team is on the pitch and at the training ground, the way we train, it makes it look and feel like we’ve been together for a very, very long time,” he said. 

“When I got here I was well received, everyone embraced me, and it’s been great. 

“Nobody likes to lose so we’re delighted we were able to come back and put on a great performance to win at home. We’re delighted with the three points that we’ve worked for.

“Saturday was fantastic. To have the full support of the fans at home and to be able to score, especially in the season that we’re having, the sort of run that we’ve been having, is fantastic.” 

Laughing as the phrase “like a duck to water” is translated into Portuguese, he adds: “I’ve played in Germany which was difficult to adapt to. Here it has been easier but I don’t want to take credit for that. 

“I believe it is the team, the people around the club, and the staff that work with me on a day-to-day basis. They’ve all made me feel welcome and they’ve allowed me to hit the ground running. 

“It’s great to have a manager that likes to play football because that’s what I like to do. He trusts us and gives us the freedom to play football. I’m delighted with the way we play, everyone here can play passing football, and it’s great to be a part of. 

“We must rest in the first part of the international break, but then we have a lot of work to do. There are things that we still need to work on. We can use the break to do that and I’m sure we can reach our objective at the end.”

Matheus has also sent an apology to Queens Park Rangers fans for his goal celebration in the recent Sky Bet Championship fixture between the clubs.

The midfield star scored Albion’s second goal in the 84th minute from a free-kick awarded after Rangers had been reduced to 10 men following a red card.

Pereira celebrated the victory-clinching moment by mimicking a cut-across-the-throat gesture familiar in South American football.

QPR and Albion have received complaints from supporters mindful that their Loftus Road venue has been renamed The Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium in memory of a 15-year-old Academy player who lost his life in May 2006 to a knife-crime incident.

In response to those complaints, Matheus has issued a profound apology which he has asked Rangers to relay to their supporters.

“Of course I must apologise if my goal celebrations caused any offence,” he said. “It is most important supporters at QPR and beyond understand that it was never my intention to do so.

“The gesture was meant only to signify ‘game over’ as my goal had given us a 2-0 lead and the opposition had lost a player to a red card. I was very excited for my first goal and happy for our supporters. I saw a Brazilian player with Flamengo doing it recently and it was just in my mind.

“I have since been made aware of the story of the Kiyan Prince Foundation and understand why my celebrations might have been misunderstood and caused offence. It was certainly not my intention to do so and I apologise for that.

“I am here to enjoy English football and make friends and share in the excitement of the game in this country. I apologise sincerely for any offence I may have caused.”

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