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Exclusive interview: Keen eager to instil "winning mentality"

8 January 2015

Assistant Manager talks to

Assistant manager Kevin Keen wants the whole club adopt a winning mentality.

The 47-year-old joined Steve Clarke’s coaching staff just prior to last month’s home game with Watford and has now overseen four matches in his new role.

The latest two of which, against Norwich and Huddersfield, have both yielded victories and Keen is eager for them to carry that on against Middlesbrough on Saturday.

“This is a friendly, family club but we’ve just got to make sure that there is a winning mentality running throughout it,” he said. “Perhaps, as a club, we are sometimes a bit too nice.

“It’s about winning games and getting the team up the league, for us. It’s great that we’re all friendly, just like what I had at West Ham for many years, but we’ve got to make sure that we find a winning mentality – not just with the players but with all of
staff within the club.

“Coming in over Christmas is tough because you have lots of games and you’re straight into it. The lads have shown a fantastic attitude to work and a desire to learn and, if that continues, then I’m sure Steve will agree with me that we can get some results between now and the end of the season.

“The win over Norwich was really important because it had been a while since the club had won a game, especially at home. We’re certainly building towards a good team spirit, good working ethic and hopefully we can get some more results.

“Football is strange, though, sometimes you need some luck to get three points and other times a really good performance won’t get you anything – like against Watford.  With the way that we’re working, we’re hopeful that we can move the club up the league very soon.”

Keen worked alongside Clarke at West Bromwich Albion, and the former says that the pair have a great working relationship. 

Keen said: “I respect him really highly as a manager and person because I have followed him to two or three clubs. I love the way he works. We have both got a very similar philosophy on the way the game should be played. I enjoy working for him.

“We want to win football matches. We want to entertain the crowd and play good football, but I’m sure the supporters also want to win games first and foremost.”

Keen spent 10 years as a player at West Ham United before returning to East London as a coach, and he cites his time at Upton Park as the most important in his career so far.

“Wherever I have been, you learn things – good and bad,” said the Royals’ assistant manager. “At West Ham, where I was for many years, we had a principle way of playing in those day, so for me it was a fantastic grounding and to go back there as a coach for brilliant.

“I had six years at Stoke and seven different managers there. Some of those were good and some were not so good and you learn in both ways. You learn how to do things well and take things off others that perhaps you wouldn’t do yourself.

“You’re always learning; both as a player and a coach. I like to think I’ve learnt something off most people but certainly my time at West ham as a player and coach has had a big influence on me.”  

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