For an uncompromising centre-back and a manager who has made it abundantly clear that his signings must be of the right character, the emergence of Abdoulaye Meite on Tony Mowbray’s radar might seem like a surprise.
The Ivory Coast international, who signed on Sunday for West Bromwich Albion, has Champions League and extensive top-flight experience but is better known on these shores for his half-time fall out with Bolton Wanderers manager Gary Megson after a torturous 45 minutes at the hands of Cristiano Ronaldo, or so the tale goes.
If there is a weakness in the imposing defender’s mental make-up then he did a good job of hiding it from Mowbray when the pair finally agreed a deal at the weekend.
“All I would say is that there are two sides to every story,” Mowbray said.
“I have heard his side of things and he is still here.
“If I had any genuine doubts then he wouldn’t be.
“Until I work with him on a regular basis I don’t know for sure what [his character] will be like but, like I said, there are two sides to every story and I listened to what he had say.”
Talks with Meite have been going on for some time but Mowbray is delighted to have finally got his man.
The Albion manager is cognisant of the need to strengthen his squad before the transfer window closes and the arrival of the 27-year-old Ivorian will be a welcome boost, especially as he covers central defensive and full-back positions.
He said: “I wouldn’t say it’s a relief but we have worked long and hard on bringing him here. I don’t want to paint a picture that we have followed him that eagerly.
“It has been frustrating that things have gone on so long.
“That has not been the fault of the player, it has to be said.
“He has been one of half-a-dozen targets and we are delighted to have him here.
“It is now down to him to get himself in top shape and make an impact on our team.”
Mowbray has undoubtedly found it difficult to secure the players he has wanted this summer.
Several offers for players have been rejected and in the cases of Paddy McCourt and Madjid Bougherra, the Old Firm clubs proved formidable opponents.
Agents have not helped.
Mowbray added: “It’s always difficult to sign footballers.
“I suppose the difference between now and last season is that the expectations and aspirations of players’ advisers is more than we are used to dealing with.
“The game is about football, really, and you only want to talk to players who want to play for your club.
“But the only time the players have to make sure their advisers get their contracts right is at the beginning of a deal – after that the time has gone.
“From that perspective I understand why these deals can drag on so long but that’s only happened in the last ten years.
“When I was playing you would rarely have more than one conversation.
“You’d sit down with the manager, have a chat and the deal was done there and then.”
Albion have released Portuguese defender Miguel Tininho.
He was described on a fans’ forum yesterday as “possibly one of Albion’s worst ever left-backs” and has returned to his homeland to top-flight side Leixoes on a free transfer.