David Moyes: Jarrod Bowen, Declan Rice, Premier League form, transfer targets, Leeds United and COVID postponements
David Moyes has been speaking to the broadcast media ahead of Sunday's Premier League fixture between his West Ham United side and Leeds United at London Stadium.
The Hammers host Marcelo Bielsa's Whites for the second time in eight days, having beaten the Yorkshire side 2-0 at London Stadium in the Emirates FA Cup third round last weekend, and also won 2-1 in the reverse top-flight fixture at Elland Road in September last year.
Moyes has tasted victory in all four matches against Leeds since Sunday's visitors returned to the Premier League at the start of last season, but he is anticipating another stern test from Bielsa's high-octane team this weekend.
The manager was also asked about how he rates his side's performance so far in 2021/22, to comment on the form of Jarrod Bowen and Declan Rice, and for his views on the continuing impact of COVID-related postponements on the integrity of the competition.
Here is what he had to say...
I’ve been really pleased with how the players have performed.
Certainly, in the last few weeks, we’re getting a bit closer to the way we were earlier in the season, so long may that continue.
When I think about how well we did in pre-season and how well we started the season and the feeling about it [is why I’m not surprised how well we’ve done so far this season].
We brought Declan Rice and Tomášs Souček back from the Euros and they were full of it when they came back, so they gave us a real chance to start the season well and we did do.
We’ve felt it a little bit and one or two injuries recently have made our form a little bit up and down and I still think we’re trying to find our best form again, but we’re getting closer to it and I hope it continues.
I think the key to Jarrod Bowen’s form this season has been getting more used to being a Premier League player.
When we took him from Hull, he settled in very well I have to say, but I think just the time and getting the chance to play regularly at this level, and I think he’s maturing.
He’s got a few goals recently, which we want him to keep adding to. He’s certainly got assists this year, so he’s been involved in an awful lot of the good stuff we’ve done.
But we’re always looking for more and always pushing him on and demanding more from him and I do think he can improve again and he can step up again, so let’s hope he shows that in the second half of the season.
He’s doing well at the moment for a team which is doing well in the Premier League and I hope that somewhere along the line he might find himself being talked about for England recognition, but I’ve said many times that the competition for that position for England is really strong, so he’ll need to keep playing well, keep scoring goals and keep getting assists to keep his name in lights, really.
Jarrod hasn’t spoken about his England hopes, but we would be thrilled if it did happen for him.
But, in the same breath, his first job is to play well for West Ham and I’m more interested in how he plays for West Ham and that he continues that form and continues to improve.
He’s a really good team player, which we like about him as well, and all those other aspects to his game have to be there for him to get in the West Ham team, first and foremost.
I think we’ve been going through this [situation with COVID and matches being postponed and rearranged] for a while now and we all know that it’s a difficult period.
All football clubs are having to deal with COVID and we need to know what the numbers would be [for each club to have postponement requests granted], but the Premier League are the ones who have that and we have to trust that they are doing things correctly.
The problems are coming with it [when clubs who do not ask for postponements have matches rearranged at inconvenient times], but the Premier League have to do what’s right, they deem one of the teams has got COVID [cases] and we have to go with that.
We’ve already had the situation once this season with the Norwich game, but it could happen to us, so I might need to call the Premier League one day and say ‘We don’t have enough players and we’re struggling to get a team out’, so if somebody else has got it, we have to believe the Premier League are doing the right thing and proving that all the numbers are correct.
I’d like to bring some new faces in if I could and I’d like to add to the group that I’ve got.
We’ll try and do it as well as we can but at the moment the ones we’re looking at and the ones we’d like to get are either not available or we just can’t get.
We’ll keep looking and just see what we can get between now and the end of the window.
I think West Ham is an appealing club to join – certainly more appealing now than we’ve been for a long time, and we need to keep that going.
I’m really keen to add to it if we can. The Board are with me and they want to add as well and they’re very supportive, but it’s about identifying the right players we want to try to bring here and go on the rest of the journey with us.
We’ll keep looking and hopefully something will appear for us in the next couple of weeks.
I think Leeds will be fine and we’d expect them to probably have one or two players back by the time we get to our game as well.
Look, Leeds are a really good side and really difficult to play against and they’ve shown it over the last couple of years.
Everybody likes watching them and everybody knows about their energy and the way they play, so that makes it really difficult to play against and we’ve had some really tough games against them over the last year or so.
I’ve been here twice and on the first occasion Declan Rice was a young boy playing at centre-half most of the time.
Since I’ve come back, he’d already been developed into a midfield player, but I think in the last two years he has stepped up.
He has stepped up his leadership, he has stepped up his play and I think everybody would see him as an England player at the moment.
A couple of years ago he was just developing into an England player but I think you don’t get recognised for the national team if you don’t play well for your club side, and Declan has played really well for West Ham.
I think he can keep moving on and he’s got a lot of bits to his game he can add to. We’re at him all the time to keep improving and keep driving the team on and show his leadership qualities that he’s already got for a young man but will get better as he gets older as well.