It was another great night at the London Stadium and a dramatic finish with a penalty shootout. What are your thoughts on that?
It was a really really tough game, Manchester City played ever so well and you know we did enough to get through and get a draw and then we took five really good penalty kicks. It is the way football goes sometimes you know we got through, but great credit to all the players and all the players who played, some of them not played all the minutes this season but when they’ve been asked to do so they’ve done really, really well.
You seem to be getting this kind of rotation right at the moment, fighting on three fronts while other teams perhaps aren’t getting it right.What is the secret?
No, no, no, we are learning on the job. There is no magic formula in this game and getting everything right, that’s for sure. And on the other night, we were not looking on three fronts we were looking on one and trying to get through in the League Cup and just like playing Aston Villa on Sunday will [only] be looking on the Premier League games and getting as many points as we can. We can only focus on one game at a time but obviously, with the games we have got we have to try and make sure that we use the squad and we’re doing the best we can and I have to say the players who have come in have been really really good.
Are you getting the feeling that there is this feel-good factor and excitement around the club?
There is plenty of excitement around but we’ve had the feel-good factor for over 12 months ever since we got rid of the factor that there was a chance of relegation. That had been hanging over West Ham for a couple of seasons or maybe even longer but we’re feeling much better than that now. We’re feeling like a side that can be competitive in the league and hopefully the cup competitions as well.
There is talk of investment by a Czech billionaire. Have you heard any rumours about that?
Just the same rumours that you have. I don’t know any more than you know. But it sounds as if something is happening, yes.
With the stadium expansion in the works, a team in London you can make a good case for West ham to be a team to invest in.
When I came in the way I thought West Ham needed to go I needed to try and make the team better and grow the team. We needed to become a better side and I’m sure there are people off the field who are looking into ways they can make West Ham a better football club off the field as well. But at the moment my job is to try and get the team right. I could not tell you an awful lot about the other stuff and I will wait with interest as much as you are waiting.
The result against Manchester City given their record in the competition, going back to 2016 the last time they lost a game even that must have given an even bigger boost. Have you recognised that on the training ground this week?
Yes, I think we have I think. But Manchester City didn’t lose the game it was a draw and we won it on penalty kicks. I think if Manchester City had beaten us on penalty kicks I’d be looking at it in a positive way. Manchester City played really well on the night they had a terrific team out but we were able to get over the line with penalty kicks, which we’re really grateful for. I think it says more about the group of players we have and the squad of players we have that they’re all contributing sort demanding that they are all going to have to play. With the games we have and the schedule., I’ve got to say none of them have let me down at this present time they have all come up trumps and played very well.
Has it given you a nice conundrum with the whole trophies versus league position because it feels like West Ham now are in a position where they could prioritise something?
No, don’t think I am doing that. All I am doing is prioritising the next game I think I want to win those four trophies you’re talking about. I’m certainly not seeing one more important than the other. I know one is more important than the other. I don’t see us winning [the Premier League] you just continue to try to do the best you can. Now obviously, that’s probably unrealistic for West Ham but I’m certainly not seeing that there are games that are less value than others because they’re all really important. But what I will say is the next game is a Premier League game against Aston Villa and that is certainly the biggest priority.
Is your interpretation of what’s more important different as a manager to what maybe a fan thinks?
Yeah, I think you’re right. I think sometimes, I hear a lot of people whether it be on radio stations saying ‘we would love to win a cup’ we are not so bothered about being in Europe but obviously when you’re a manager when you are in this situation doing very well in the league shows that you’ve been a consistent side throughout the season. When you should have consistency with your team, your work. Being a cup side you can get really good draws and you can find a way to get through so, there are ways you can win a cup. I’ve always felt that being a good league team is always the first priority.
Some of the work that you have been doing has been on set pieces, which has been a really successful area for you. Paul Nevin and Kevin Nolan were credited by Aaron Cresswell for some of the work they’ve been doing now as I understand that you don’t have a set-piece coach as it were, but just a word on the sort of work that they have been doing with the team.
We don’t actually do that much work [on set-pieces] but if you are talking about delegation. Yes, we delegate and people who may do that, do some jobs and do different things instead of me having to do it all. But yeah, but both Kevin and Paul look at a lot of stuff and Paul is working with England as well probably in a similar role so I think Paul has done very well. But the truth is, do we spend lots and lots of times on set pieces? No, we don’t.
Any team news update for us from that midweek game?
No, in the main we’re getting better Vladimir Coufal got some minutes who had been out previously. Ryan Fredericks is making progress who has had a couple of injury worries. Alex Kral has returned after isolating so he’s in a better place now. So we’re pretty good at the moment, we’re in a good place. Like everybody, we’ve got some knocks and niggles and things behind the scenes but hopefully, we’ll be fine.
Alphonse Areola came in for a lot of praise after his performance against Manchester City. How strong is that competition for that No.1 shirt between him and Lukasz Fabianski?
Well, what we saw the other night was the reason why we brought him in because we knew that the amount of games we’re going to have and the level of the games whether it be European games, cup games or league games, we’re always going to need good competition. And I think I’ve got two No.1’s it keeps Lukasz on his toes and I’ve got somebody who is in good form and ready to play. And like everybody else sometimes coming to a club even though Areola has had experience with Fulham I still think it takes a bit of time to settle in. I thought the other night was his best game for us and he certainly helped us get through it and into the next round.
You talk about rotating your team and it seems as if there isn’t fatigue necessarily at the moment. I’m wondering if while you’re winning matches your players don’t feel tired?
Well that’s a simple sort of psychology isn’t it? I think winning makes you feel much better, keeps you going makes everything feel much better, these press conferences, everybody around the club but we have to understand that we’ve got to keep it right we have to do things right. We’re not getting carried away with ourselves but we are enjoying it why shouldn’t we because we have had lots of periods at the club where we’ve not been in the situation of being in a positive situation. We are now there we’re going to ask the players to do more. I think that we have to play even better now and I think there are signs that we can do that.
One of those positives is you’re unbeaten away from home in seven matches. How pleasing is that as a stat?
That is a great stat because it’s something which I think last year that people thought it was to do with the crowds and to do with Covid and probably in many cases it was but we’ve started this season away from home well. I also want to have a great home record because I think London Stadium with 60,000 fans in it is a great place to play your football. We have been to some big games already away from home and we have been able to deal with it so lets hope we can do that again.
Dean Smith seems to be under pressure are you surprised with recent results and where Aston Villa have found themselves?
I don’t see in any way how Dean Smith is under pressure after the job he’s done. Where he took them from, where he got them last year, how good his team is. He’s also had to sell maybe their best player and adding new players to the squad and I think they have bought really well. I think Dean Smith has done a brilliant job at Aston Villa and I would be amazed if your comment [being under pressure] is correct.
#PLStories- Thomas Frank on Tottenham vs Brentford, Antonio Conte, Spurs and latest injuries #BRENTFORDFC
Another London derby, you’ve fared well against Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham. How different...
#PLStories- Leeds United condemn ‘homophobic and unacceptable’ abuse of Crystal Palace ace Conor Gallagher #LUFC
Leeds United have condemned homophobic chants that were aimed at Crystal Palace’s Conor Gallagher...
#PLStories- Conor Gallagher reveals dressing room mood after late Leeds penalty downs Crystal Palace #CPFC #LUFC
Conor Gallagher says his Crystal Palace side didn’t deserve to lose to Leeds United...
#PLStories- Thomas Tuchel on Saul Niguez, Chelsea’s “lucky” win at Watford and Hakim Ziyech #CHELSEAFC
The medical emergency – how worrying was it and true the players didn’t want...
DAVID Moyes was left frustrated by a VAR call after West Ham were pegged...