It wasn’t just Gianfranco who left a mark on me, though.
Sam Allardyce opened my eyes to a lot of things. His attention to detail is probably second to none in terms of the way he shaped his team, knowing everything about the opposition and knowing your job inside out within the team.
He’s probably one of the best I’ve ever seen at using video analysis and doing the classroom work, so you knew exactly what you had to do when you went out on to the pitch.
There’s no secret – for me, that’s the reason why he’s had success almost everywhere he’s been.
Sam was very ahead of a lot of people. Always looking for that edge, that extra percentage. Whether you could find it from doing ice chambers on a Sunday, by getting the cryotherapy chambers down to the training ground or improving our nutrition – trying beetroot shots or different supplements that might give us that extra percentage when it really mattered.
I was also fortunate in that I got to work under Eddie Howe at Bournemouth.
I really like the way he went about his business in terms of his training. The intensity. How organised he was.
Leading up to a match day, his preparation was incredible. It was a real eye-opener to see someone like that being so obsessed and dedicated – sending his team into a game every weekend in the best position possible.
“I like players who are able to express themselves – not playing all safe and feeling as if they’re strapped in”
I played under some fantastic managers, but I’m making sure I listen to voices from outside of football, too. You can learn a lot from successful people, whether they’re from rugby, cricket or any other sport or business. It’s always good to hear their take and different ideas on things.
If I hear or see something I like and feel that it’s going to help me develop and, more importantly, help the kids develop, then I might try to input it into what I’m doing. Why not?
Every day I’m learning new things, whether it’s from the great coaches I’m working with at West Ham or just trying out new things myself.
We want to give the Under-16 boys every tool they need to get a job out of the game of football. So there’s lots of video analysis work, gym work, psychology sessions – we’re just trying to tie everything together so they’re in the best position to succeed.