Vladimír Coufal: We have a lot of room to improve in all aspects of the game
West Ham United might have won seven of nine Premier League matches and sit fourth in the table, but Vladimír Coufal insists there is still plenty of room for improvement.
The Hammers’ Czech right-back was part of the team which beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at London Stadium on Sunday to continue their encouraging 2020/21 campaign.
The Irons went two goals up shortly after half-time, but then spent much of the remainder of the game camped inside their own half, unable to put together meaningful spells of possession, and it took a heroic defensive effort to hold on.
So, while the result was positive, Coufal said the overall performance from the men in Claret and Blue was not to the standard either they or manager David Moyes and his coaching staff expect.
Sometimes we have to be more relaxed and calmer with the ball
“We should be careful calling this a ‘fantastic performance’ because we always have a lot of room to improve in all aspects of the game, mainly keeping the ball,” he told West Ham TV. “But it was a tough game and Tottenham has really, really good players and of course we appreciate this win.
“Our work was to stay tight and, as I said, Tottenham has really good players like Bale, Kane and Son, so it’s really difficult to keep the ball against players like them. We have to take three points and improve in the next game.”
That next game could not be more difficult on paper, as West Ham travel to runaway leaders Manchester City on Saturday.
And while they will be doing everything they can to stop City making it 19 wins in a row in all competitions at Etihad Stadium, the No5 believes the Londoners can learn from the way Pep Guardiola’s men play in possession if they are to improve their own levels of performance.
“We have enough quality with the ball, but we have to be braver when we go on the attack,” he observed. “Sometimes we have to be more relaxed and calmer with the ball and we are working in every training session on this aspect of the game and I hope by the end of the season we are playing like Manchester City!
“It will be a very tough game at City this weekend, but we will try to get some points. We will do everything to improve our chances, but we will see.”
Reflecting more on Sunday’s win over Spurs, Coufal himself had an eventful game, playing his part in Michail Antonio’s first-half goal, being winded when he collided with Łukasz Fabiański as West Ham defended their lead in the second, then seeing a late clearance hit Heung-min Son, loop over Fabiański and come back off the post!
“I feel good but during the match it was a little bit painful!” Coufal revealed. “The feeling on the pitch was that I couldn’t breathe but I could hear Cress and the other guys smiling, so I wanted to kill them or something, then I wanted to start laughing too, but I couldn’t breathe!
“It was a horrible feeling, but the most important thing was we didn’t concede a goal from this situation.
“I think it (the late Son incident) was an even worse feeling than when I had a clash with Łukasz! I went to kick the ball out but unfortunately I hit Son in his shin or I don’t know where and when I turned and saw where the ball was, I was sure it was going to hit the post but I didn’t know what would happen after that.
“I started crossing myself, but you need a little bit of luck in this kind of moment!”