Manning: We showed togetherness in Liverpool win

Liam Manning


West Ham United U23 boss Liam Manning praised his team’s togetherness and mentality after they were 2-1 winners at Liverpool in Premier League 2 on Sunday afternoon.

The Hammers went ahead early on Merseyside when Reece Oxford nodded in from a corner kick, but the visitors were pegged back in the second period when captain Matty Virtue levelled.

And despite coming under periods of intense pressure, the Hammers battled hard to remain solid at the back but still threatened the hosts’ goal.

That threat was transformed into more with 17 minutes left when Joe Powell stepped up to fire in a 20-yard free-kick and give Manning’s team all three points.

The Academy coach was delighted with the way his squad applied themselves mentally after struggling with exactly that in the last two matches – defeats to Manchester City and Arsenal.

He said: “It all comes back to our mentality, and I thought there was a real togetherness which you could see before the game today, all the way through the match.

I thought there was a real togetherness which you could see before the game today, all the way through the match

Liam Manning

“I’ve been critical of the lads in the past about being too quiet but I thought we saw that togetherness. To concede eight minutes into the second half was difficult, so it was really pleasing to see the response. We stuck together and fought together and responded in the right way. 

“In previous games, we looked vulnerable and open but today, we won the game through resilience and grit.”

Having started previous games slowly this season – falling behind in all three of their fixtures – the U23s did the opposite in Liverpool and were on the front foot early.

And with Nathan Trott standing tall and making a number of superb saves between the sticks, there was plenty to be pleased with for the coaching staff at the hosts’ Kirkby Academy Training Ground.

Nathan Trott was outstanding against Liverpool

“In terms of a few of the things we addressed and talked about starting quickly, to go ahead in three minutes was really pleasing,” continued Manning. “We had issues in the first half, of course, and Trotty made some great saves, but in terms of what we said about fully committing, we did that as a team and we were really pleased from that point of view.

“Nathan was outstanding. Single-handedly he probably got us the result with the saves that he made, and we know he has that ability to do that, and we know technically and tactically he can do that. 

“But today he showed a real presence and took up great positions, spoke well and he was constantly focused. His challenge is to not drop below that now. The saves were outstanding but the bonus was all the other things that came with that.”

With Josh Pask picking up a late injury in the warm-up, the preparations were not ideal for the Hammers but the side fought through those challenges to pick up their second win of the season.

“Grady [Diangana] was injured at Arsenal, Josh Cullen went on loan as he needed to do, and Pasky was injured in the warm-up, so it was a mixed week and preparation,” explained Manning. 

“But the lads in and around it every day have responded well to all the challenges we’ve set in training. That comes from applying yourself properly every day.”