Despite watching his West Ham United side fall 1-0 to Arsenal, there were a host of positives for Liam Manning to take from Friday’s Premier League 2 game.
The young Hammers were beaten by a solitary goal at Meadow Park in their match on Friday evening, but were more than up for a competitive contest against the Gunners.
Nathan Holland, Dan Kemp and Alfie Lewis all went close for the Irons, and Manning was pleased with how his team performed in defeat.
“We're really pleased with the lads and their performance,” Manning told WHUFC.com. “I think in the two games we played Arsenal in prior to tonight - the one that got called off and the one at London Stadium - we were disappointed with those games and you can see how far we've come tonight, in terms of the way we've played.
“We're just gutted for the lads to be honest, because they deserved to get something from the game.”
We're just gutted for the lads to be honest, because they deserved to get something from the game.
Friday’s match was originally supposed to be played in February but was called off at half-time due to thick, unrelenting fog.
That evening, West Ham found themselves 3-0 down prior to the postponement, and Manning explained what his team learned from that initial showing.
He continued: “It's about focusing on what we do. Sometimes we might be a bit too respectful to the opposition and aren't focusing on what we do and what we're about, and from that not believing in how good we can be.
“I think that can be a big challenge for the lads to overcome in terms of backing themselves, saying they want to be top players, and then showing everyone that. I thought we did that tonight and that the lads had a real togetherness.
“I felt the lads really worked hard to help each other, talk to each other, and back each other up. You can't ask for more than that.”
West Ham lined up with a 4-4-2 for the match with Arsenal, and Manning believes this gave his side a better option to be physical and get at their north London opponents.
“Playing the 4-4-2 gave us a bit of physicality up front. I think, in the first 20 minutes or so, we didn't play into the front men early enough. When you've got two players like Sean and Jahmal in the team, you want to get into them and play of them with quality.
“Ultimately, this also gave us a good set-up without possession as well, and gave us a lot of success in regaining the ball off of Arsenal. I thought we did that really well; we just couldn't make the most of it.”
Manning added: “We just spoke to the boys after the game and told them that if they apply themselves like they have done in training recently, and they apply themselves like they did in this game, and perhaps add a bit of quality in the top end of the pitch, then we can go win some games to end this season.”