“West Bromwich Albion, like Fulham, have a certain appeal and I knew there were some good football players here, talented people. I thought they had the right attitude – the chairman and Dan Ashworth, the sporting director. I thought it would be a nicer way to finish the season than leaving Liverpool and not doing anything for six months.
“The beauty of the Fulham one was that there were more games: 18 as opposed to 12 here. The lack of fixtures bothered me because sometimes it takes four to six to make inroads. It happened quickly here, with the help of people like Nicky Shorey, who had worked with me before, Steven Reid who was quick to latch on, Jonas Olsson, James Morrison and Graham Dorrans. They half knew what I was going to work, what I would want.
“The template is organisation, not only defensive but offensive as well. We divide our time almost religiously between attacking and defending. We have a 60-40 swing. If you’re playing a difficult away game you might spend one and a half sessions defending. But for the most part it’s one on the defensive shape, one on the offensive shape and a third possibly divided between the two, or on specific work.
“The mantra is that we’ve got to be a very strong unit both when we’re attacking and defending. We talk about it globally. When the opposition have the ball how are we 11 going to deal with it? The two strikers might still be the most important people when we’re defending. And the guys who are there to stop it might have a big part in our attacking build-up. At Liverpool the players were receptive to the work we tried to do as they were at Fulham and are here. But of course players have characteristics and it suits them to do certain things rather than others – so you’re always going to find that battle against their natural desires.”