Left-back talks all things Albion, Belgium and learning under Van Gaal
SEBASTIEN Pocognoli has proved a revelation down the left flank since his summer arrival at The Hawthorns.
The left-back has rapidly become a fans’ favourite with Albion supporters for his no-nonsense defending and strong desire to get forward into the final third.
And so ahead of tonight’s home clash with Manchester United (ko 8pm), Pocognoli sat down to discuss all things Albion, Belgium and being reunited with Red Devils boss Louis Van Gaal having won the 2008/09 Eredivisie title in Holland while playing under the Dutchman at AZ Alkmaar.
Here’s what Pocognoli had to say...
On returning to the international fold with Belgium…
“I was very happy to come back into the national team. I had the opportunity to play the first of two games (a 6-0 win against Andorra) and got 35 minutes.
“It’s nice because we have a very good team, we’re fourth in the FIFA rankings, so I’m very happy and it’s as consequence of my job here at Albion.
“I feel very good here so I expect that the coach saw my games here and that’s why he selected me.”
On his impressive start to life at Albion…
“I think the way we play here, the coach wants to play positive football, keep the football, play forward and attack.
“That really is my style, I like to combine, cross and play offensively.
“The first game against Sunderland we only took a point but the way we played was very nice to see and that’s why, also, with Chris Brunt as well, the defensive job is very important for me because he’s a very smart player.
“For me, it is very easy to play with him.”
On Albion getting better game-by-game…
“I don’t like to find excuses but the reason why we started slowly is that we had a lot of players arrive in the last days of the transfer window.
“This is the reason, but now everybody is fit and we have a big squad.
“We had to leave Liverpool with no points but I hope against Manchester United we can play like we have in the last few games. That would be nice.”
On working under Van Gaal in Holland…
“I was very young when I went to AZ Alkmaar, I was 19 years old, and I worked for two years under him.
“He helped my formation as a footballer, pass-control-pass, tactically, because defensively I was not so strong. And also my personality because he likes players with personality.
“He’s not only a good trainer but he’s also a good human being.
“I learn a lot from every trainer I work under, as I am now under Mr Irvine.
“For me, he (Van Gaal) was very important because I was young. I don’t know if I worked with him now whether I would be the same, but when I was 19/20 years of age, all that he said I tried to do.”
On working under Alan Irvine…
“He is a different style of trainer but also someone I like very much because he is more relaxed but also with a good philosophy.
“He gives a lot of confidence to the players, Mr Irvine is a gentleman, he talks well. When we are under pressure, he stays calm.
“Training is also very good, I really enjoy it.”
On playing in the Premier League with Albion…
“It’s my dream to play in England and I try to really enjoy it.
“For me, playing Liverpool and Manchester United is motivation for my reasons for playing in the Premier League.
“I’ve played in the Bundesliga, against Bayern Munich and Dortmund, and it’s also nice but, I can’t explain, I have more feeling here.
“I knew that West Bromwich Albion was a nice club, a family club. I kept in contact with Romelu (Lukaku) and after five minutes he gave me a very good picture, as did Kevin Mirallas.”