David Moyes: Internationals returning and preparing for Wolves
David Moyes is hoping his international stars can align again when West Ham United go to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday evening.
The Hammers return to Premier League duty after the March break for FIFA World Cup qualifiers seeking to record a first-ever top-flight double over Wolves and strengthen their challenge for a top-six finish.
Moyes welcomes nine players back from national-team duty to Rush Green at the end of the week and is hoping they will be fit to feature at Molineux.
There, the Irons will seek to replicate the performance and result from their 4-0 home win over Nuno Espirito Santo's side at London Stadium in September - a game Moyes himself missed after testing positive for COVID-19.
Speaking to the media ahead of Monday's game, here is what the Scot had to say...
Our players did well on international duty, with Declan Rice and Jesse Lingard both winning Man of the Match awards with England and Tomáš Souček scoring a hat-trick for the Czech Republic.
It shows us that the boys are not only playing well when they play for West Ham but also that, when they go on international duty, they are performing at a high level.
Tomáš has been doing it quite regularly for the Czechs, Declan has been there and Jesse has got himself back in and around the England squad.
Jesse is on loan from Manchester United but at the moment he is playing for us and we’re enjoying having him.
I’d like to have more international players and having that tends to give you stature. I think we’re one of the clubs with the least amount of international players, so we have to try to add to the group of players we’ve got, but the players we’ve already got are doing very well.
Our two England internationals have been brilliant for us.
Jesse Lingard is averaging a goal or assist every 88 minutes of Premier League football for West Ham and I’d say that’s a great stat and it’s great for us.
When you bring people in, in January, you hope they can make a difference for you and I have to say Jesse has done that for us and that stat certainly backs that up.
Declan Rice has been improving no end and he’s been getting better. He’s a massive player for us and he drives us on. He’s getting better in many ways – his understanding of the game, his leadership and his professionalism – and that’s what happens when young players come in and they step up.
He’s now training with the best in the country and he’s working alongside them and it shows him the level he needs to get to.
I have to say Declan is stepping up and joining them now. We always felt he could do it and hopefully he continues to do so.
I did say that when we got to single figures of games left, I’d start looking at where we might finish and I am, but it’s really tight and there are five or six teams who could be in several different positions.
So what I’ve done in my head with that is to say that ‘we’re down to nine, we’ll take it one game at a time, and we will take each one on and see where we go with that, then move onto the next one’.
Look, we weren’t expected to be in this position, but we’ll do everything we can to stay in this position and if that gets us into one of the European competitions, that would be great. If it doesn’t, we’ll look at it and still look and say: ‘We’ve had a good season’.
We need to keep going and try to make it a great season if we can by making it into one of the European competitions.
The memory I take from our 4-0 home win over Wolves in September was that I had COVID and was sitting in my apartment watching the match, so it’s great credit to my staff for how well they did their jobs and players as well for their professionalism.
I hope we can try and do the double over them but obviously it’s a really tough game against Wolves. I thought they showed really good signs in their last game against Liverpool where they played well, I felt, so I understand it’s going to be another tough game for us.
Wolves have a really solid counter-attacking approach and I think they have been a strong side for a few seasons now, Wolves, and everybody has seen how well they’ve done.
We have to be aware of them in all different parts of the game. They’re good on the ball and an all-round good team.
Maybe they’re not having as good a season as they have in the past, but that’s what happens when you’re trying to grow and become a better club.
Wolves have certainly done great in recent years and made great strides, coming into the Premier League and staying there and competing at a really high level.
While I won’t reveal how I think my team can expose Wolves’ vulnerabilities, overall we have to try and keep playing the way we have been, try to be aggressive and try to win every game we possibly can.
That also comes from having a good defence and we have to defend when we have to, attack at the right moments and get enough players forward, attack and try and score.
Our 4-0 win over Wolves at London Stadium in September was a significant result for us.
It was a tough game because we’d actually played Wolves in one of the games after we came back from lockdown in June and lost 2-0. We’d done OK, but were just not quite good enough, so to get such a positive result against Wolves at the start of this season was really important.
We’d lost the first two games to Newcastle and Arsenal, having played really well at Arsenal but not taken anything from the game, so to produce such a strong performance and score four goals gave us a lot of confidence and something to build on.
The signs were there before that game. The results didn’t come in our first two games but behind the scenes we felt we were in pretty good shape and that game against Wolves started to show that and it turned from there.