By Will Butcher
West Ham’s Jose Fonte believes working under Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton has made him a better defender.
Fonte, 33, worked with the 45-year-0ld manager during Pochettino’s year-and-a-half stay on the south coast, and has since won Euro 2016 and earned a move to West Ham.
Speaking to the Hammers’ official website, Fonte believes Pochettino’s influence helped him improve his positioning at the back as well as being able to predict an opponent’s next move.
“I’ve had the opportunity to learn from the best,” Fonte said. “With Pochettino, for example, we worked a lot on improving the physical aspect on the training ground.
“We worked on interceptions, on playing out from the back, making the right angles, sliding across to be in the right positions all the time, and the distances between the players in the back four – small details that you pick up along the way.”
Speaking of Pochettino as well as Ronald Koeman and Slaven Bilic, Fonte also said “they were experienced managers and great players, so you’ve got to take what they say in.”
Pochettino, who was a defender in his playing career with the likes of Espanyol, Paris Saint-Germain and Bordeaux, is known for his sides’ defensive strength as a manager.
During his playing time under the Argentinian manager, Portugal international Fonte kept 17 clean sheets during his 45 outings as Pochettino watched on from the Saints dugout.
Now with the Hammers, Fonte is one of the first names on the team sheet under Bilic alongside Winston Reid, but could use some inspiration from Pochettino to stop the leak at the back.
In his six appearances in claret and blue, the Hammers have conceded 13 goals and won just once match since his £8million move to east London in the January transfer window.
Fonte is expected to start for the Hammers on Saturday, as they welcome Champions League heroes Leicester City to the London Stadium with the chance to go ninth in the table.
In other West Ham news, the Hammers are looking to complete a defender deal worth £65,000-a-week.