Fletcher delighted to return to ‘special’ club

Darren Fletcher says he’s delighted to be back at such a “special football club” as he takes the next step on his coaching journey.

The former skipper, who made 97 appearances for the Baggies between 2015-17, has been invited to return and continue his coaching pathway with Albion’s Academy youngsters as he works towards completing his UEFA A Licence.

Fletcher, a popular figure at The Hawthorns, admits crossing over to the other side of the white line has always been an aspiration of his and sees this opportunity as the perfect platform to further his development as a coach in what he calls a “great” environment.

Darren said: “It’s great to be back.

“This is such a special club. It’s a real family club and I am absolutely delighted to be back here.

“I’m in the process of doing my coaching badges. I’m doing my A licence. The club have kindly invited me back in to help me complete those which is a fantastic opportunity for me. It just made sense for me to come back.

“Luke Dowling, Sporting and Technical Director, was in contact with me very early in the summer and I had a few little things going on before I could eventually take him up on his offer to come in.

“Coaching has always been on my mind from a young age. It’s always something I thought I would like to do once my playing career had finished.

“I’m trying to get my badges done which you need to do. I’m enjoying learning about the other side of the game.

“I loved my time here, especially around the training ground because there was such a good atmosphere in the building.

“There are plenty of familiar faces still around. It’s a fantastic place to be and a great environment to work in. It always has been.

“The thing that makes it special is the family feel. The people who work here make it special. They all play their part in the success of a football club.

“They make it a good environment for the players and that helps performances on the field. It makes it a place you want to come to every day to work because it’s a pleasure to work for such a fantastic football club.”

Fletcher has been impressed with Slaven’s table-toppers and believes the Baggies have displayed plenty of admirable qualities in the first few months of the season.

“I think the start to season has been fantastic and great to watch,” he added.

“I think the club had a great summer in terms of recruitment. Top of the league and deservedly so as well.

“They have shown different styles to their game. They’ve dominated matches, they’ve come from behind, they’ve dealt with adversity and they have a never-say-die attitude and that shows in the number of late goals and comeback goals.

“These are all strong qualities. What I see is an organised team with an idea of how they want to play, but at the same time, a lot of flexibility for the players to go and express themselves. They don’t feel restricted in any way and I think you see that in their performances.

“No doubts you can learn from a successful manager such as Slaven. His people skills are fantastic. He has time for everyone and he is a calming influence around the place.

“It’s fantastic for West Bromwich Albion to have such a successful manager. Hopefully I can pick his brains on a few things, watch a few sessions and get some ideas because you can’t help but learn from someone like that.

“Jake Livermore has been fantastic this season but Romaine Sawyers has been a breath of fresh air. He’s a fantastic footballer.

“I played against him last year when he was playing for Brentford. He’s arguably been the best midfielder in this league this season and hopefully he can continue that form and lead us back to the Premier League.”

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