Bruno knows it is sink or swim in the chilly waters of the Premier League.

The going got a bit more choppy for Albion at the weekend after some serene progress towards safety.

But they are not reaching for lifebelts just yet after some great work during football’s unprecedented stoppage opened a bit of clear water between them and the relegation places.

Bruno has been taking to the waves himself very recently with 6am sea swims to keep mind and body sharp.

It is a great time to think and one of the conclusions he has come to is that he and his club made the most of their lockdown challenge.

The former right-back has been talking about lockdown in a role helping promote high street shops and businesses, with the backing of American Express, as they re-open.

Bruno knows this has been a challenge for everyone and has revealed how Albion put their own particular circumstances to the best use.

He was speaking ahead of the big home defeat by Manchester City but events on Saturday will not have changed his belief in the work the club are doing.

If anything, a weekend of unhelpful results will make that work put in during lockdown all the more important going into the last three rounds.

Bruno, now a valued member of the coaching staff, said: “The club has always has been really pro-active.

“During lockdown they put in place a great plan where the players had everything to keep themselves fit at home, physically and mentally.

“All the staff - Graham (Potter, head coach) and everyone - worked so hard. We had so many meetings during this lockdown. That Zoom app was on fire!

“Coaches, for example, were analysing performances.

“You slow down and you have time to reflect, which was really good for us.

“The players trained so hard and that helped us because they came back in great shape, all of them.

“That gave us the platform so we didn’t have to start from a really low point of physicality.

“They came back in a great mental spirit as well.

“During the lockdown it was good to have a break as well. We gave them space. We know footballers are fitter than ever.

“We have got such good players in terms of being professional and being focussed.

“The recruitment that has been done helps because we have really top professionals in the team.

“We have been impressed with how they have been running and training and playing games every four days.”

For a while, all was going swimmingly as Albion picked up points while teams below them appeared to be sinking without trace.

Then came a tough weekend – as there was always going to be at some stage.

Albion fans might feel their team are going against the current again now after a 5-0 defeat to powerful Manchester City while teams below them won.

But they are still better than off than they were during lockdown.

Their high water mark for now was the nine-point buffer they opened over 18th place with a 1-0 win at Norwich.

A Match Of The Day graphic that evening compared Albion under Chris Hughton to the current side in terms of statistics.

They showed the Seagulls were not only scoring more goals and having more possession.

They were also conceding fewer goals and facing fewer shots.

That is still the case, although the gap has closed in the last week.

Bruno said: “If you have a lot of possession, you have to defend less.

“If you have possession in high areas, further from your goal, then there is less chance of conceding a goal.

“Manchester City don’t concede too many goals and it’s a really offensive team. Why? Because they have a lot of possession really far away from their goal.

“Then the risk to concede a goal is less even though there is a risk in that you have much more space to defend. That’s the challenge.”

The talk of playing style now is similar to that during Gus Poyet’s time in charge.

Poyet also used to say that the other team cannot score when you have possession.

That was the environment into which Bruno arrived in 2012 but he quickly learned new ideas, especially as his English improved.

He was perplexed then - and still is – to hear talk of playing your football “in the right areas”.

He said: “How do you get to the right areas? That’s the key.

“If I play a long ball, for example, into that ‘right area’, probably it is going to be four against two.

“You’ve got two forwards against a back four, plus the goalkeeper.

“If they get the ball back, how do you press them? Where is the rest of the team?

“Playing into ‘the right areas’, you have to get there. Do you get there in a really compact block where, if you lose the ball, you are ready to press?

“Or in a really stretched team where it is really difficult to defend?

“I think it is for me about how you want to get into those ‘right areas’.

“But it’s not just one way in football.

“It’s really important that one way is not the right way to play.

“Any way to play is right if you believe in that and can make it successful.”

Bruno had a crash course in tactics and gameplans when he got stuck into the Championship.

He said: “I have been really lucky because I’ve seen all styles are good.

“For example, we can’t translate the phrase ‘ball into the channel’ into Spanish.

“It doesn’t exist. We don’t have an expression to explain that because it is quite a British concept.

“But, for me, it is a good outlet if you’ve got a full-back who has got a good touch and can play a long ball to a striker who is really fast and can hold the ball. Then it’s about how you support that from there.

“But I think there is nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong at all.”

If there is no one way of playing, then there is also no reason why one team has to always play the same way.

Jurgen Klopp noted Albion went longer after the first ten minutes at the Amex last week.

Bruno said: “We always try to be able to change.

“You want players who can solve problems on the pitch.

“That’s the dream for any coach.

“After that, you want players who can adapt to different positions.

“That is why it is so important at young ages they play different positions to understand the game better.

“I didn’t start playing as a full-back until I was 24 years old. I was more like a midfielder.

“You play different positions and you understand how they want the ball.”

All of which gives plenty to think about. Plenty to debate. Plenty to ponder during those early morning runs and sea swims he enjoys now we all have more freedom.

He said: "I love swimming but I’ve always been really respectful of the sea.

"But I try to go as often as I can. I love to keep fit and the best thing is, as early as possible in the morning, to do some sport to start the day.

"I get up at six and go for a run and after that get in the sea for ten minutes without a wetsuit.

"I also have a friend who does triathlons and we go together on longer swims.

"I didn't know the wetsuit floats! I've been discovering new things. I try to challenge myself as well. But it's nothing serious, just enjoyment. It’s really good and relaxing."

There is also plenty of reason, Bruno says, why is now convinced his future lies in coaching having been unsure when he hung up his boots last year.

He said: “It has been an amazing journey for 12 months.

“I retired and the club offered me a position in a professional environment.

”Of course, I didn’t know the manager.

“But the manager and his staff have been outstanding with me since day one.

“They gave me a lot of confidence.

“They took me to their team and made me feel part of it.

“I was lucky as well because I knew a lot of staff.

“Ben Roberts helped me a lot, Casper Ankergren as well. I’ve been enjoying it so much.

“I love coaching and I just look forward to keep learning and keep improving.

“I see myself staying doing this.

“It feels right for me inside and I really like coaching players and helping them with my experience and any knowledge I have.

“It’s good to have players from other countries where maybe you have your own little touch, sometimes do things a bit different.

“I feel really lucky to be in this position and learn so much from Graham, Bjorn and Billy and all of them.”

* Bruno Saltor is supporting the American Express Shop Small campaign to encourage the nation to support high street businesses as more begin to reopen post-lockdown. For more information search, Amex Shop Small UK.


Bruno, how have you passed your time during lockdown?
It was a very tough time around the world. I’m really grateful and lucky to have been able to spend time with the family. It was doing things together with my wife and children. Because we are from Spain and the lockdown there was earlier, we stayed at home earlier than it started in England. Also, after the first year as a former player, it gave me time to think.

Have you learned any new skills or hobbies during the lockdown?
I have actually learnt more about myself. In this society where we live right now, we have time poverty. We are always rushing everywhere. I have had time to reflect, been learning much more about myself. I’ve also been learning to cook better. I’ve always liked cooking but, before, I didn’t have much time. The weather was really good so we had barbecues and also I was cooking a lot of paella and some spicy pasta.

What’s your favourite small shop you have been missing? Why have you missed it?
It’s actually more a coffee shop or a cafe - I would say Cafe Malbec, which belongs to LatinoAmerica restaurant in Hove. I really like the wine and food, the empanadas. They do really nice coffees as well and I like the environment.

What's the first thing you will buy there?
The first thing I will get there would probably be a nice red wine with some tapas and enjoy it with some friends.