Coufal: Now we are playing like we feel bigger after European success

Vladimír Coufal says West Ham United’s early-season form has been a direct result of winning the UEFA Europa Conference League at the end of last term.

The Irons have drawn huge confidence from lifting the Club’s first major trophy in 43 years, and have taken that into the opening four Premier League matches of the new campaign, winning three of them and taking ten points to put themselves among the early pacesetters.

Coufal who started the win over Fiorentina in Prague and all four Premier League games, says the whole squad remains on a high, while the four summer signings – Edson Álvarez, Dinos Mavropanos, Mohammed Kudus and James Ward-Prowse – have lifted spirits even further.

“After winning the conference league we gained a lot of confidence,” said Coufal. “Now we are playing like we feel bigger, with confidence, we trust each other, we trust our process, our football. We are keeping together. It is bringing the fruits and bringing the points, so we don’t want to change anything. But, to be absolutely honest with you, I didn’t expect ten points from these four games!”

Coufal at Luton

Ward-Prowse has made a superb start to his Hammers career, scoring one and assisting three of the nine goals his new team has scored in their opening four fixtures, including a pinpoint corner for Kurt Zouma to score in Friday’s 2-1 victory at Luton Town.

Coufal has been impressed, but not surprised, by the impact made by the England international midfielder.

“I don’t think I have to say how good he is, everybody in the Premier League and the UK and maybe all over the world knows who James Ward-Prowse is, from his free-kicks and corners,” said the Czech.

“He is absolutely world-class. He reminds me of Andrea Pirlo or Juninho [Pernambucano]. He chooses the spot in the box and he delivers the ball exactly to that spot. It is easy for him. His kicking technique is absolutely amazing.”

Italian Pirlo won six Serie A titles and two UEFA Champions Leagues with AC Milan and Juventus and the FIFA World Cup with Italy in 2006, while Brazilian Juninho was considered by many the greatest free-kick taker of all time during his time with Lyon.

Coufal also likes the way Ward-Prowse has linked up with new teammates in midfield, where Lucas Paquetá and Álvarez have provided a combination of creativity and commitment to fuel West Ham’s unbeaten start.

“It’s great!” the right-back smiled. “They are just getting together and have not been here for a long time, and their connection is very good. They are rotating in the midfield and everything, so it’s fun to watch!

“Edson is a very good guy and has settled in really well. He’s a good character in the changing room and is very committed like you can see on the pitch.

“We have got really good players.”


UEFA Europa League three-game packages