JONATHAN Greening believes former team-mate Steve Watson will quickly build the team spirit needed to get York City moving in the right direction.

The ex-Newcastle United and Sheffield Wednesday right back is taking over a City side that sit seventh-bottom in National League North, having lost ten of their last 16 matches.

But Watson is no stranger to securing results in adversity, having masterminded an odds-defying National League promotion push at cash-strapped Gateshead this season, before deciding to take on a Minstermen job that has seen the last four incumbents all depart without managing a year in charge.

As a player, Watson was earmarked in 2005 by then West Brom boss Bryan Robson as somebody who would help create the right dynamics in a dressing room that he would share for two years with ex-City midfielder Greening at the Hawthorns.

He had previously spent five years at Everton, helping David Moyes turn the perennial Premier League strugglers into Champions League qualifiers and Greening reckons Watson’s ability to galvanise changing rooms into winning environments as a player will be witnessed during his tenure with City.

“Gateshead are eighth in the table with a small budget, having gone part-time in the summer, which wouldn’t have been easy for Watto, but he created a great team spirit there from what I’ve heard,” Greening declared. “He will be big on that, because Bryan Robson brought both him and Kevin Campbell in at West Brom, with that in mind.

“They were big players in terms of getting the dynamics of the changing room right and they brought that good team spirit from Everton, which they’d had under David Moyes as well.”

Along with Moyes and Robson, Watson played for Ossie Ardiles, Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish and Ruud Gullit at Newcastle, with Greening certain that he will have adopted many of the methods used by his illustrious former bosses.

“He’s been in the game a long time after making his debut at 16 and he worked for some unbelievable managers at Newcastle, as well as Bryan Robson and David Moyes later on,” Greening pointed out. “At West Brom, I think he’ll have taken a lot from Robbo and Nigel Pearson, who he got on really well with.

“Nigel was very professional and big on time-keeping, so Watto will be the same on that front.”

Being a stickler for fitness during his playing days, Greening also expects him to accept no shirking on the training field.

“He was in his early 30s when he joined us at West Brom, but he was still the first one on the training field and the last one off after doing his extra work,” ex-England under-21 international midfielder Greening pointed out. “He was also in the top three or four during the pre-season running, so he’ll want all his players to be fit.

“He set examples by the way he trained and demanded high standards from other people. Whether we were doing passing or possession drills, he wanted to be on the winning side and he will demand a lot from his players every day to improve performances and get the club in a better league position. He’ll expect everybody to train like he did.”

An undiminished love and passion for football, meanwhile, continues to drive Watson’s desire to succeed in the game, with Greening adding: “I’ve known Watto quite a few years and the thing that stands out about him is his enthusiasm.

“He had that as a player and still does as a coach, as I saw him doing sessions for Lee Clark when they were at Birmingham together. He loves his football, nearly as much as I do, and lives and breathes it, so I wasn’t surprised when he first went into coaching.

“All he ever wanted to talk about was football, wherever you were. He watched every single game on television and he’d be asking you if you’d seen last night’s Spanish League match all the time.

“He’s also a really funny, sarcastic guy, who has a very dry sense of humour, but knows when it’s time to be serious.”

Prior to Watson shooting to the top of the betting market, Greening’s close friend and former City team-mate Richard Cresswell had been the short-priced favourite to replace Sam Collins.

The pair were placed in temporary charge for one match – a 1-0 defeat at Crawley – in between Russ Wilcox’s sacking and Jackie McNamara’s appointment in 2016 when they were on the Bootham Crescent backroom staff.

But both departed soon after McNamara’s arrival and Greening believes there was no substance to the reports linking Cresswell to the vacancy this time around.

“I don’t believe he was approached, but he would have been interested,” Greening said. “We’ve obviously been friends for years and he loves the club and I’m certain he would have done a good job because, knowing him as I do, he would have put his heart and soul into it.”