The transfer window may have shut but we added a player to our squad this week — someone of top quality on and off the pitch.
I wanted ‘Pat’ Evra for a number of reasons, not least because he has great leadership qualities; he is someone who motivates the dressing room.
I’ve known Pat, I’ve worked with him at Manchester United and I know what he is capable of.
Yes, he’s 36 years old and hasn’t played since November but he has been training regularly and hard since he left Marseille — he has been out in Dubai with his fitness coach for the past month so he is in good condition.
He has trained with the first team for the past couple of days and done well but there’s a big difference between training and playing a match and, to be fair, the training we do at this time of the year isn’t at a massive level of intensity because we’re trying to save the players’ energy for the games.
From what I’ve seen over the past day or two, I would have to say he’s not far away from playing. I’m not sure whether I would throw him in straight away but it’s something I am considering.
The big thing for me is that he is someone who so many players have — and will — look up to because of what he has achieved. He’s a good talker, he’s played for some of the best clubs in the world and with some of the best players.
Pat’s level of professionalism is very high and I want that to rub off on some of our other players. I want them to see what they have to do to get to the very top. He and Pablo Zabaleta are two great examples of players who have played at the top end of this sport and have won things throughout their careers.
Since I’ve been here I’ve relied a lot on Mark Noble and I believe Pat will be good for him because, if he wants to carry on playing for many seasons yet, then he will look at players like Pat and see what he needs to do to achieve that goal. Pat will also send a message to the young players on how to maintain and improve that level of performance — when to train, when to rest and when to enjoy yourself.
When I was at Manchester United, Pat was a really good pro. The biggest compliment I can pay him is that he is a man, he will stand up, he’s honest but he will take responsibility.
Ideally, he can play in any of the three left-sided positions for us — as a centre- back on the left of a three, as a left-back or as a wing-back as he did for Juventus.With Arthur missing for six games, I felt we had lost a little bit of balance down our left side so, with Pat here, it just adds to our options.
On another subject, there was a suggestion this week that I will leave West Ham at the end of the season, whatever happens. In answer to that, I would say that I am really enjoying my time here — I’m smiling! I would like us to improve the team so that the fans say, ‘Yes, I like the way they’re playing’, but it will take time. What I wanted the fans to appreciate is that we’re going in the right direction. We needed to work on the players’ attitude, we needed to show their determination was never in question.
I want to see how all those things are at the end of the season and no decision will be made until then — or certainly until we know we are safe in the Premier League.