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Interviews

Sam on saves, mentality and style

21 September 2019

Sam Johnstone says saves are a goalkeeper’s currency and there’s nothing quite like contributing to a positive result with an important stop.

The 26-year-old pulled off a string of fine saves to keep Albion in last week’s 1-1 draw at Fulham - following up his penalty save at Derby County with another important performance on the road.

And the Club’s No.1 believes he has improved as a keeper since joining the Baggies last summer.

“It feels good to make saves especially when you get a result off the back of it,” admitted Sam.

“Of course it’s great to make saves, without people really noticing, if that makes sense.

“It’s expected that you should make saves and sometimes it doesn’t happen.

“But making saves at a certain point in the game when we dig in as a team and go and get a result, a draw or a win, they’re the most important saves.

“With the pen at Derby we could have gone 2-0 down but you stay at 1-0 through a save and at Fulham there were saves where we could have easily been 2, 3, or even 4-0 down, and we came away with points in both games.

“It’s a great feeling when that happens. We work hard every day with Walshy [Gary Walsh] and you just have to put that out there on the pitch.”

Sam insists mental strength is a key component for any successful stopper with goalkeepers experiencing unparalleled scrutiny.

“Of course there’s pressure. There’s pressure on goalkeepers because you’re the last man in the team. If anything happens the ball’s in the back of the net," he explained.

“You have to be strong mentally. Me and Walshy go through the games and we discuss things throughout the week. I’m open-minded to changing things because I want to improve and make myself a better goalkeeper. All that helps going into a game.”

Passing out from the back is a topic that continues to divide football fans but Johnstone believes it is a matter of when not if it is appropriate to play it short.

“Slaven wants us to play football,” added Sam. “I don’t think it will be as risky as last year but there’s going to be times when we have to take risks to pull the opposition out to play through them and hurt them, or go over the top.

“And then there will be times when we’re going to go a little bit longer and push up. But ultimately the manager wants to play football. We’ve got the players to do that, if you look at the likes of Filip, Grady, Kyle Edwards and Romaine in midfield, they can take a ball and do something good with it. I think we need to use that to our strength.

“There’s going to be times where it’s going to be risky but I think everyone has to accept that. We did it all season last year and times are changing. There aren’t many teams now that go long every time.”


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