And defender talks about meeting Head Coach Irvine and new signings
GARETH McAuley reckons his team-mates look in great shape as Albion’s players today kicked-off their pre-season programme.
And he is relishing being back on the training pitch as the Baggies begin a new era under recently-appointed Head Coach Alan Irvine.
“It’s always nice to get back but it’s always tough as well,” said McAuley.
“We did a bit of light work with the ball and a bit of running as well.
“It’s exciting to be back on the training pitch.
“All the boys have been working during the summer – you have to – and all the sports science people were pleased with the results of testing at the weekend.
“Everyone has come back in good shape and that’s good for us because it means we can get the balls out quicker and do a lot more structured work rather than just running and fitness.”
The Northern-Ireland international also revealed how Irvine’s first group meeting with the players went.
“He had a good chat with us this morning, got his ideas across, told us what he expects of us, what he’s going to bring, and the type of coaching he delivers,” added McAuley.
“It was all very positive and everyone wants to get on the training pitch now and learn the ideas we are going to take out onto the pitch this season.
“We've moved on from last season and it’s all about looking forward.
“The page has changed and we have new goals.
“We let ourselves down a little bit last season and we’re not happy with finishing 17th.
“We’ll be looking to improve on that this season.”
And the towering centre-half is in no doubt new signings like Joleon Lescott and Chris Baird will help Albion achieve their targets this term.
“Lescott is a great signing for us and a great statement from the Club,” he insisted.
“He’s worked with the gaffer and the coaches before.
“He’s a great player, an England international, and someone I’m looking forward to playing with.
“I bumped into him in Portugal and we had a good chat.
“Now it’s all about competition for places and everyone is fighting.
“We want to move forward and improve on last year – and he is the type of player we want to see at this football club.”
He added: “I’ve known Bairdy a long time.
“He’s a great signing for the club, especially as he is so versatile.”