Mark Warburton said West Ham United’s coaching staff were pleased with the way their players approached their 4-2 win over Cambridge United on Tuesday evening.
A unique mid-season season hiatus for the FIFA World Cup finals saw the Hammers and their Premier League counterparts given a six-week break from competitive action, which will end on Boxing Day.
With five players in Qatar, others playing in November internationals and the remainder given a fortnight off before returning to Rush Green on 30 November, it has been a period like no other for Warburton, manager David Moyes and his staff.
As such, the Irons took a makeshift squad to the Abbey Stadium for U’s defender Greg Taylor’s Testimonial, in which Jarrod Bowen and Saïd Benrahma scored fine goals, Aaron Cresswell was withdrawn early on and both Tomáš Souček and Maxwel Cornet were left at home as a precaution.
Speaking to West Ham TV, assistant coach Warburton enthused over Bowen and Benrahma’s strikes, as well as the performances of the Club’s representatives at the World Cup, and reassured fans that neither Cresswell’s injury nor Souček and Cornet’s absences are of any great concern.
It was important to come back and play some good football in a competitive game after the break we have had.
The boys have come in and had three or four hard-working days and tonight was an extension of that.
It’s important now to start preparing for the first game back [at Arsenal] on 26 December, so it was important to get minutes into the boys’ legs and good loading and a good workout.
Some of them had 45 minutes and some had 60 and some of the young boys came on and did well and got minutes as well and did well, so overall it was a really good experience.
You keep hearing the word ‘unprecedented’ being used about this season, but it really is.
You’ve got boys who are away at the World Cup, you’ve got boys who have played international friendlies for their countries like Tomáš, Vlad and Saïd etcetera, and others who haven’t had minutes during the break, so you’ve got boys coming back at a real hotchpotch of levels, so we’ve had a few days of hard work to get them back to where they need to be.
On Friday we travel to Italy to play Udinese on Saturday, then we play Fulham the following week, so these games are really important to get the loading right for the players.
It’s a really tough time and every club is going to learn from this experience around Europe, because it’s not easy.
When he cut in from the left-hand side, I thought Saïd looked dangerous when he cut, and I thought his right-foot finish was superb and he looked a threat.
Gianluca missed some chances, but it was promising to see him get in good areas, as Michail did in the first half.
We need to be more ruthless in the final third. everyone knows that, but we created some good chances, so hopefully we’re in a good place.
We have all been watching our boys playing in the World Cup with interest and pride.
Nayef [Aguerd] has been excellent for Morocco. He’s done really, really well, and Thilo [Kehrer] came in against Spain for Germany and helped his country get a creditable draw there.
Dec [Rice] has been outstanding. I’m not saying that with a biased hat on, but I think the manner and level of his performance, the energy and the commitment and no doubt about the quality.
I’m really pleased for him and of course I’m English so I’m delighted to see him do well, so all eyes on Saturday [against France in the quarter-final] now.
Speaking of Saturday, we go to Udinese and it will be a step up from tonight and a really good test.
Tuesday night was important to get those minutes and now we need two or three days of really good training again before we travel and prepare well for a good test.
It’s all part of our preparation and we have to go there with a good mindset and give a good performance.
Aaron coming off was a precaution.
It was a cold night, as you know and the boys have only been back three or four days, so hopefully no damage done tonight.
Maxi is coming back and has had a little tweak but he’s not too far away. Tomáš was fine yesterday and trained really well, but has just slept funny and had a stiff lower back, nothing more than that, so it’s just precautionary as they’ve only been back three or four days so we have to look after them.
Nayef has made contact with us already and fingers crossed it’s not as bad as it looked. We saw he reached for his groin but he’s quite happy tonight (after Morocco’s World Cup round of 16 win over Spain) so hopefully he’ll have it assesses and have a scan in the morning and, fingers crossed, it’s not too bad.