Club News

McAuley crucial to Olsson's thinking

Swede hails Northern Ireland counter-part as best partner he's had

JONAS Olsson has revealed his ‘connection’ with Gareth McAuley played a huge part in him deciding to pen a new four-year Albion deal last week.

The Baggies defender, who is currently away on international duty with Sweden, rates his Northern Ireland counterpart as the best partner he has had at centre-half in more than four seasons at The Hawthorns.

And the stats show how influential the pair have become in the Baggies’ rearguard, with just 35 goals conceded in the 27 league games they started together last term.

The duo have built on that this season, with only seven goals against them in as many top-flight matches – the joint-fourth best defensive record in the Barclays Premier League.

Olsson said: “I finally feel I’ve been able to get a good partnership at centre-half.

“I very much enjoy playing with Gareth and I hope our relationship can be a long one.

“One of the reasons I have re-signed is that I really love playing with him.

“He’s a good guy as well and that makes it easier to connect on the pitch.

“It’s normal when you play next to each other on the field to talk a lot and be friends.

“I definitely feel a connection with him.”

The former NEC Nijmegen star is also relishing the opportunity to see how the Baggies’ current crop of players continue to grow after laying down solid roots in recent seasons.

“I really feel the club has been managed in the very best way,” Olsson added.

“We’ve been keeping the squad intact over the last few years.

“We’ve had a chance to really connect as a group.

“It’s a very nice group and I always come into training with a smile on my face.

“I’m really happy to be part of that - and it is vital you are happy in that way.

“The way the club looks at it is to not only find good footballers but also good characters.”