How is the squad looking ahead of the Aston Villa game, any new injury concerns?
At the moment I think everything is okay, we have a couple of knocks and niggles which I think we will look at this morning in training but overall hopefully things will be okay.
What are Jesse Lingard’s fitness levels like and is he set to make his West ham debut?
Well, his fitness levels are fine, he is a lean boy, he doesn’t carry any weight so he is in good shape and Manchester United I am sure would have kept him in good condition as well. Probably more than anything for Jesse is, is he completely match ready to play? But you only get that through playing matches as well. We will have him in and around the squad. Will he start? I couldn’t confirm that and I wouldn’t confirm that anyway.
Will he be involved?
I am hoping to have him in and around the squad, yes.
How is Michail Antonio’s fitness?
Mick is okay we are pleased he has come through recent games well and he seems okay.
We have had a brilliant January, we had gone unbeaten in January until the last day of the month so we have had an incredible run there, which is great, the players have started 2021 in brilliant fashion and they have played really well. We came up against the champions, we played a team who have run into a little bit of form in Liverpool, more than a little bit of form, very good form, so we found it tough. I don’t think we will be judged by our games against Liverpool I think we will be judged in many other games. The players have done really well, they have done fine.
It won’t play any part in this game that’s for sure. We found it really tough and we were probably fortunate to win the game in the end at our place. It was a tough game, Aston Villa have done incredibly well when you think that the last game of last season where we played Aston Villa and we drew and they stayed in the Premier League with that point. They have made great strides in a year, very good signings and they have got an improving team.
Well, we didn’t get one, it’s as simple as that. We were looking but we want to try and pick correctly. We had money to spend, we sold Seb early in the window so we had that, but we are trying to do things differently here at West Ham and we are not going to follow the same path we have followed before. I chose to keep my money and hopefully we can start another rebuild come the summertime.
Is no striker better than the wrong striker?
I think you have got to remember that we are in a period where you have to look at a few of the other clubs as well, who whether they have needed a centre-half or a centre-forward I don’t think anybody in this time… I think it is partly due to the pandemic as well you have responsibilities with the money you spend. We are also partly through this year and all we continue to talk about is the money the lower league clubs were going to have and how they Are going to survive. So partly due to that, you have to be mindful of what you are spending.
I think it is really important we find out if there is a connection between heading a football and dementia. I think it is massively important. I really hope it is not, I really do because we don’t want to take heading out of the game but when I was asked before about it I said ‘how often does a player head the ball in a game?’ There are some players who might head it ten times there might b some players who head it two or three times, now if you head it two or three times is that giving you dementia? If you head it ten times is that giving you dementia? But the training situation I have had my thoughts on it for a while, I would hope that nike or mitre or however make the balls nowadays could possibly come up with a training ball which is the same flight, the same weight which could be used in some way for heading practice in training which could be separated. Whereas in the old days the centre-halfs and the centre-forwards would do lots of heading practice, I am not so sure if we are doing quite so much of that at the present time.
I think it all comes down to recruitment, last year Dean Smith brought in one or two players and it took them time to settle or it didn’t quite work. This year after they have scraped through last year I think they have signed very good players and also they have improving players within their team. The likes of Grealish who has greatly improved, John McGinn has greatly improved, Tyrone Mings who has improved greatly, Konsa and they have added to that with people like Olly Watkins. and one or two others as well. They have got a good side and I think they have recruitment very well and I think that is why they are in the position they are in.
Where do you think Jack Grealish’s game has improved over the last year or two?
He is a really improved player, from my point of view probably the best player in the Premier League at the moment in time. He has shown what he can do and he has done such a great job for that club, for me, he is playing as well as anyone in the Premier League.
No, not realistic. We’re going to do the best we can we are going to try and stay as high up the league as we possibly can, we are going to try and win every game if that is possible but we are certainly not setting ourselves unreachable targets and we are trying to do them but we are sensible I think we have been sensible the first half of the season and I think we will continue to be sensible through the second half of the season.
Having sold Seb Haller did you not think that West Ham really needed an out and out No.9 in January?
I think you have got to remember and you will remember it better than most the club spent £200million and I think you would have been one of the ones saying this is great we are going places and it has actually not worked that well so I think when you talk about recruitment and who you bring in you have to get it right. Now we have brought in Soucek, Coufal, Bowen and Benrahma so I want to try to add to that and I want to make it better. What I will not do is sign players which if we are being honest will just appease people. The owners have been great and the Seb Haller money was there if I chose to spend it and we tried, but overall the players we wanted to add to the players we brought in and the type of players we brought in weren’t available. Aston Villa’s signings have been really good.
There have been more away wins at this point in the season than ever before, why do you think that is?
I remember after lockdown we were all watching German football and seeing lots of away wins there but when we came back it didn’t show up here in the final nine games or so, it was pretty normal. But we are seeing it more this season I don’t know if it is more to do with the crowds no more than ever and that is making the away games slightly easier not having the supporters against you. Maybe you get less refereeing decision going for you [at home] so for different reasons, I think that could be it. But I don’t have any one real solution for it.
Martin Keown has suggested some clubs are benefiting from not having fans in, we are all missing fans, we all want them back but would you agree it has been easier for some players to play behind closed doors, and do you think West ham are one club that has maybe benefitted from it? In the past, the West Ham fans can get on the teams back from time to time.
I cannot wait to get supporters back because we have a much-improved team, they [the fans] have got a new team, an energetic team and when they come back they will see that and have something to shout about. A club like Sheffield United who got promoted last year  their supporters had a big influence had helped them and drove them on so I do think that your support can make a big difference and I do see that Sheffield United are missing their support. So some clubs are missing it. We hope we get supporters back as quickly as we can, and I think they will be coming back to see a much better team now.
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