Baggies defender raring to go ahead of new season
JONAS Olsson insists Albion could not have been given much more of a sterner pre-season test than the one handed to them by Portuguese giants FC Porto.
The centre-back’s headed equaliser shortly before half-time ensured the Baggies went into the interval on level terms against their continental visitors on Saturday.
But a second-half brace from Colombia international Jackson Martinez, who suitably impressed at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, ensured FC Porto emerged as 3-1 victors.
The Dragons, Champions League winners in 2004 as well as Europa League victors in 2003 and 2011, have won their domestic Primeira Liga title nine times in the last 12 seasons.
And Olsson believes Albion were handed one of their strongest examinations in recent memory in what was their final pre-season friendly ahead of the start of the new Barclays Premier League campaign.
“It was a very good test, they were a tough team to play, one of the better sides I’ve been up against in the last few years. They’re top quality,” he said.
“I thought we matched them quite well in the first half, they had most of the possession but we matched them.
“Second half we conceded a few poor goals.
“But it was a good test, I think there are few sides in the Premier League who will give us such a test as Porto did.
“Jackson Martinez was good and the players around him – (Hector) Herrera and (Ricardo) Quaresma – they’re quality in every position.”
Sunderland are the visitors to The Hawthorns on Saturday as Alan Irvine’s side open their 2014/15 campaign on home soil.
It will be the club’s fifth successive season of top-flight football after respective 11th, 10th, eighth and 17th-placed finishes.
Olsson is preparing for his seventh term in an Albion shirt, the sixth of which among England’s elite.
And he insists both he and Albion’s class of 2014/15 are all set to go for what lies ahead.
“Yes, I feel ready,” the Sweden international said. “I think we’ve had a very good pre-season.
“We’ve been working hard, the management team have been working hard. I think we’re good to go.
“We’ve got some really good signings in and we’re eager to get going.
“It’s always a good feeling about a new season. You’re looking forward and everything starts again. I’m very much looking forward to it.”
Olsson continued: “Everything is pure and every team is at square one.
“You have ambitions, dreams, thoughts, expectations and pressure – all of those things are a mixture of emotions and that’s why you do it.
“With the new season coming, you don’t dwell on things or look back, you just look forward.
“I’m starting another chapter in my career and in the club’s Premier League history.”