NEW Sunderland signing Billy Jones says the chance to work under head coach Gus Poyet was a big factor in his decision to move to the Stadium of Light.
The 27-year-old defender turned down the chance to extend his stay at West Bromwich Albion in favour of a switch to Wearside.
And while improved wages and a longer-term deal has an obvious appeal, Jones is excited about working with the Uruguayan who made such an impact on the Premier League last season.
“I’m really looking forward to working under Gus Poyet,” said the Bosman free transfer signing.
“I met with the gaffer before I came here to complete the medical, and the way he talked – and the passion and enthusiasm he showed and what he has done since he has been here – was a massive selling point.
“The way he turned the club’s fortunes around last season was a massive achievement.
“Sunderland got safe last year when maybe many people had written them off.
“I know at one point in the season, we at West Brom thought they might be on their way down, so what they did to turn it around was unbelievable.
“And, not only that, reaching one cup final – and almost another – meant there wasn’t too much doom and gloom.
“The consistency shown at the back end of last year is a sign of what is to come.”
Jones has had a stop-start couple of seasons at the Hawthorns, with a series of niggling injuries.
But he believes Sunderland will benefit from the peak years of his career and points out an extra string to his bow is the ability to contribute in either full-back position.
“At the age I am now, it’s time to kick on,” he said.
“I know I can play at this level and play consistently well at this level.
“I feel the next four years here should be the best football I play in this league, and that’s what I’m expecting and I’m sure that’s what the gaffer is expecting and the club.
“First and foremost, as a defender, I am proud to keep clean sheets along with the rest of the lads.
“But also I feel that I have improved offensively, too.
“Speaking to the gaffer here about the way he wants to play, I feel it is a good match.
“I want to be solid and keep clean sheets, but also hopefully to get some assists and score a few goals as well.
“I’d say right-back is my strongest position, but I’m always happy to fill in elsewhere for the good of the team and the squad.
“I’ve played a few games at left-back too, and that hasn’t been a problem.”
Jones started his pro career at Crewe in 2003, making 143 appearances and scoring eight goals before joining Preston, for whom he hit 13 goals in 174 outings. At West Brom, he managed one goal – against Newcastle – in 74 matches.