Jarrod Bowen is looking forward, not back, ahead of the new season.
The West Ham United No20 was one of many Irons who more than played their part in the Club’s record-breaking 2020/21, during which David Moyes’ team collected the Club’s highest-ever Premier League points total.
The forward was on the mark eight times in the top-flight last season, including a brace in the 4-0 demolition of Wolverhampton Wanderers and influential displays in important home wins over Aston Villa and Leicester City, both occasions picking up a goal and an assist.
But much like his dynamic, direct style of play, Bowen is a forward-thinking player who only wants to channel the benefits of those experiences towards becoming a better player in the future.
And after a pre-season period in which West Ham have gone unbeaten and won five of their seven preparatory games, Bowen is determined that his team will maintain the momentum they accumulated last year, starting with Sunday’s trip to Newcastle United.
“We’ll treat it just like another game,” Bowen said. “Obviously, it’s the first game of the season and we want to get off on the right foot, but with what we did last season, we want to carry that form into the start of the season.
“It was obviously an unbelievable season for us to get 65 points and European football here. There was even talk at one stage about getting into the Champions League, which is a remarkable achievement for us coming from avoiding relegation the previous year.
“The Champions League wasn’t meant to be, but we still got Europa League, so it's going to be good for me personally – something I have never experienced before. It’ll be really good to play in that and hopefully have a good run in it.
“What happened last season is done now. All our focus is on the new season. I feel like we will put in a good performance.”
Sunday’s game is likely to be West Ham’s first in front of a capacity Premier League crowd since March 2020, following the government’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions on sporting arenas.
As a result, it’s expected that St James’ Park will be in fine voice – but Bowen is most looking forward to seeing the Claret and Blue Army, whom he scored in front of in the last capacity crowd game against Southampton a month after signing.
“You want to get off on the front foot and play well, especially with the fans coming back,” Bowen explained.
“Our first game is away but our support is going to give us another right boost. I think it’ll just kick us on another level from where we finished last year. We’re excited about the season ahead coming off of last season and we just can’t wait to get started.”
As for the team’s targets, Bowen – much as was the collective sentiment last season – sees no reason to place any limits on the team’s potential.
He noted: “I think we want to build on what we did last year and be consistent with what we do.
“We don’t want to be a team that one season finishes in the Europa League places and another season finishes mid-table. We want to be consistently challenging for European football every season.
“I think that's the whole message with the group. That’s what we want – we have all bought into it as players.
“We know that we can do it. Coming off last season, we know that we can achieve European football, so I think that's got to be got to be the aim and the mindset for all of us.”