Alan Irvine: Our senior and our young players combined extremely well
West Ham United assistant manager Alan Irvine was delighted with the controlled and professional nature of his side’s performance in the 5-1 win over Hull City on Tuesday.
Braces from Sebastien Haller and Andriy Yarmolenko at London Stadium, arriving after Robert Snodgrass had opened the scoring against his former club in the first half, granted the Hammers safe passage into the Carabao Cup fourth round.
There, they will meet the winners of Fleetwood Town or Everton next week, dependent on the result of their tie on Wednesday evening.
West Ham’s performance was defined by professional displays from their senior players, who combined well with a number Academy of Football graduates, including debutants Ajibola Alese and Emmanuel Longelo in defence, along with full debutant Harrison Ashby.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” Irvine surmised. “I think to a man they played extremely well, with three young players who ended up making debuts tonight. They all did extremely well, and the senior players helped them through and did a great job for themselves as well, so I’m absolutely thrilled with how the team played.
“I felt that right from the beginning of the game our work-rate was fantastic, our organisation was fantastic, the way that players filled in for each other was great, and I said to them in the dressing room before the game that that work gives you the platform to show what you’re capable of doing.”
The Hammers were in control of proceedings during the first half at London Stadium, with Snodgrass’ and Haller’s goals coming on top of 61 per cent possession and the team’s restriction of the visitors to zero first-half shots on goal.
In the second period, Yarmolenko opened his account from the penalty spot after Haller was fouled by Sean McLoughlin at a set-piece, before Hull pulled one back down the right wing through Mallik Wilks.
Haller and Yarmolenko had the final say, however, both finishing clinically in injury time to give the scoreline a true reflection of the Irons’ dominance on the evening – as well as stake their claim for a more regular inclusion in the West Ham United starting eleven.
“These games are an opportunity for the boys who aren’t at the moment playing in the first-team starting eleven,” Irvine explained. “They have to grab these opportunities when they come along, and I have to say they have done, as have a number of the other players.
“The fourth goal certainly killed them off and then, of course, the fifth goal was icing on the cake. Looking at the boys trying to get the ball back, they wanted another one, so that was very good. Everybody came through the game extremely well.
“Hull had a couple of good results to get here. They beat Leeds in the last round and they’ve had a very good start to the season, and they were in the Championship just last season. They haven’t been conceding goals, so for us to score five against them was fantastic.”
Earlier this evening, West Ham United confirmed that manager David Moyes and first-team players Issa Diop and Josh Cullen returned positive tests for COVID-19.
The Club’s medical team were informed of the test results as the team were at London Stadium and the manager and both players immediately left the stadium and returned home.
All three, who are asymptomatic, will now follow Public Health England and Premier League guidelines and protocols.
Irvine said: “We’ve been very particular about protocol right from the start of this.
“Our medical team and COVID officer are very aware of what’s been happening, and we’ve followed all of the protocols all of the way through. I’m sure that we’ll be following protocol now.
“It wasn’t even discussed other than me saying to the players what had happened, and then them getting on with the game. They focused on playing the game and you saw how well they did that – the way the lads adjusted to it was fantastic, they were totally professional.
“It was really good for us to get the number of goals we got tonight, and really good to get the number of players playing well that we did. When I speak to David later on, I will obviously be giving him a whole load of good news.”