Ismaël 'excited to present new Albion team'

Valérien Ismaël

Valérien Ismaël is extremely excited to experience the thrill of a packed-out Hawthorns for the very first time on Saturday afternoon.

The boss takes charge of his first home match following his appointment in late June as the Baggies welcome Luton Town to B71.

Not since March 2020 and an Emirates FA Cup clash with Newcastle United have the Albion faithful attended the Shrine in full numbers, with this weekend’s fixture against the Hatters set to be a special one for so many reasons.

And Val says the opportunity to meet over 20,000 Baggies and “present the new West Bromwich Albion team” to them is one he will relish.

He said: “I’m really excited but also a little bit nervous for Saturday.

“I experienced supporters in the stadium with Barnsley in the play-offs last season and that was only 4,000 people.

“On Saturday, there will be over 20,000.

“It’s a new feeling for everyone, me included.

“I’m really looking forward to the moment when I get to meet the fans and present the new West Bromwich Albion team to them.

“We’ve already seen the new philosophy in action down at Bournemouth, but it’s important our fans to see it live and to get a good feeling from the squad.

“The progress we have made over the last seven weeks has been brilliant.

“With the Bournemouth game, it was important to see our identity. We’re not exactly where we want to be, but we’re now a step closer.

“Now we’re at home and it’s important we put in a good performance and get a win.

“The crowd will push us and they will put the opponents under pressure. 

“They can be a huge help to us. My expectation is that the support from the fans and the performances from the players will combine and make The Hawthorns a really unpleasant place to play for opponents.”

Ismaël guided former club Barnsley to a 2-1 win over Saturday’s opponents back in April.

And the 45-year-old knows there will be pressure on his side to perform well against Nathan Jones' men in front of the returning supporters.

“Luton will be tough opponents.

“They have a great manager and he’s done a very good job there.

“They try to be flexible in the way they play and they can change their shape throughout the game.

“We’re at home and our expectation is to start the game in a strong way. We really want to win.

“We want to win with the fans there to see it in our first game at home. We want them with us in our journey and a win would be the best reward and a great start.”

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