Roberto Di Matteo was officially unveiled as West Bromwich Albion’s new head coach and his first act has been to give the green light to the £2 million capture of Swindon Town striker Simon Cox.
A deal has been almost a year in the making for the 22-year-old, who has scored 35 goals in 62 appearances for the Robins, and a fee was agreed but Albion were prepared to pull the plug on the signing if Di Matteo did not want to proceed. However, the Italian is familiar with Cox’s talents from his year as manager of MK Dons and wants the deal completed.
“I know a lot about him from last season and he has an excellent goalscoring record,” Di Matteo said. “We have agreed terms and the player will be coming in next week for a medical. He is a very good player and I will be happy to have him.”
Eyebrows were raised in some quarters following Di Matteo’s appointment after only one year as a manager at MK Dons but he says Albion chairman Jeremy Peace has not taken a big risk in his appointment.
Di Matteo is confident he can mould Albion into a side that can bounce straight back to the Premier League and is relishing the challenge before him.
“I am very proud to be here,” he said. “I’m joining a club with a proud history, an ambitious club with great supporters.
“People have doubts over my experience but we will see at the end of this season where I can take this club. Personally I don’t think I’m a gamble but some people may think that.
“I would like to thank the chairman for having the confidence for appointing me because I know there are people with concerns about my lack of experience. I am very confident with the set of players I have here that we can do a job and be competitive.
“Our aim is to go back up to the Premier League. We have good quality in the team with the players we have. It’s an achievable target for us.”
Di Matteo said he was aware of the expectation that wouild be placed upon him by the supporters, who will demand that Albion be among the contenders for automatic promotion, and believes that pressure is not unreasonable.
The former Lazio and Chelsea midfielder believes his squad is already strong enough to mount a serious challenge to return to the top flight at the first attempt.
“The most important aspect will be to win games,” he said. “There will be expectation. It will be high and we know that the fans expect a lot from the team. I think we have good players and if they’re committed then we will have a good season.”
Di Matteo has brought Eddie Newton and Ade Mafe from MK Dons as assistant head coach and head of sports science respectively, and has vowed they will give everything they have to their new employers. “All three of us are very hard-working people and that’s what you’re going to get from us,” he said. “There is a very good team here and we will try our best to go back up again.
“I’m very much looking forward to taking the next step with West Bromwich Albion. I’m very happy to be here, it’s a great club. I know there was a disappointment last season but I think there is potential to do very well here.”