West Ham United’s rapid growth as a Club might have been evidenced by their UEFA Europa League group-stage performances – but for Jarrod Bowen, there’s even more progression to come.
Leading the line in a 2-0 win over Rapid Vienna on Thursday night, a result which saw the Irons secure top spot in Group H – and with it direct qualification to the Round of 16 – Bowen has been a key component of the Irons’ successes over the last 18 months.
Despite being a European football newcomer, like so many of his teammates, Bowen’s natural ability and tireless attitude – ubiquitous across a united squad – has seen him shine in the continental spotlight.
With attentions now turning fully to domestic commitments until at least March time, Bowen expects progression in Europe to be reciprocated by the Irons’ progression in the Premier League.
It speaks volumes that West Ham go into Sunday’s Premier League game away at Manchester City just two places, and three points, behind the reigning English champions.
The No20 reflected: “When the Europa League draw got made, it was many of ours’ first experiences in European competition, and of course we want to do well in every competition that we’re in, domestically and on European nights.
“Obviously it’s our first experience of this competition and we want to stay in it as long as we can, so to finish top of the group and to go straight into the Round of 16 is what we wanted to do, and we’ve done it really well.
“We’re doing well, and now we just want to keep progressing and taking each game as it comes and seeing where we go.”
With nine games to play in December alone, manager David Moyes is likely to require his full squad to be on top form as they bid to push up the Premier League table and overcome a Carabao Cup quarter-final away at Tottenham Hotspur.
Playing away from home in Europe, it’s always difficult, but we got the job done and to be group winners is what we wanted to do
The performance against Rapid Vienna, after eight changes to the starting XI, will have provided Bowen with plenty of encouragement in that regard.
“I think it was controlled,” the winger noted. “On another day, we probably would have scored a few more goals.
“Playing away from home in Europe, it’s always difficult, but we got the job done and to be group winners is what we wanted to do.”
Potentially adding to Moyes’ strength in depth are the a high-performing group of U23s players, two of whom have now made first-team debuts this season.
Bowen was delighted to see 17-year-old Sonny Perkins – who only made his development squad bow two months ago – enter the field of play at Allianz Stadion, being denied a senior debut goal when his thumping header was tipped over the bar moments after coming on.
“I think it was his first touch – that would have been so special for him!” Bowen smiled.
“I think it was a good save from the ‘keeper as well, to be fair, but it’s great to see Sonny and the young lads travelling and getting minutes on the pitch. It was a special night for them.”