No tattoo for Moyes !


Ahead of arguably our most important game since the 2006 FA Cup final , David Moyes has of course has much to say.

Here he talks about the game, our recent years in Europe, our hopes to win the trophy, whether or not to get a tattoo (!) , the moat around the stadium and more… much more.

One thing is for sure the man needs no more motivation. Winning is all…second or third place is nothing and as has been said many time it will be the first thing he has won in a long career if it happens.

With a full squad available the manager will be in as strong a position as he could be and he is clearly entirely focused on nothing else but victory which could easily save his job.

It could hardly be a bigger night as teh Hammers bid to avoid the disappointment of last season’s defeat at this stage.

Here is what the manager had to say in answer to questions he was asked at the presser:

Is there no need for extra motivation, knowing you just need to avoid defeat to reach the final?

I don’t know if that is the motivation. The motivation is that we have a really tough game and we have to deal with it. We have got to do that first, got to go through that process, before we get any further.

You said the game was tightly contested in the first leg. Do you still feel it is very open?

Of course it is. There is very little in it. If it was the other way around, if we were a goal down, we would be saying we still have to go for it and that we have a great chance. I don’t see it being a big advantage. It is an open game and we are going to have to take it on.

They haven’t lost in their last 25 home European matches. What challenges are you expecting?

Very good. But I have been here and won before. I remember it well. I have to try to do that again tomorrow night. That’s the job.

Did you know you were the manager of the only ever English side to win here with Everton?

I remember it because I have so much respect for Louis van Gaal and he was the coach at that time. I was still a very young coach learning my way. I have always enjoyed coming to the Netherlands, I have always enjoyed coming here to play in youth tournaments, to be around watching the football. I remember that night quite well.

You previously said it was tough to plan for next season without knowing what league you will be in. Now you know, how big would European football next season be?

It would be huge if we can make Europe again. It would be three years in a row, in a league which is incredibly competitive and very difficult to get near the top of. We would be doing it through getting to a final but first of all we have a semi-final we have to navigate. We are playing against a really good side, a good footballing team, and we have to try to do the job which is required.

How important is that for your vision to grow the club? Harder to get into Europe compared to other clubs who can sometimes afford a year off knowing they will almost certainly come back?

I have said many times, when you are trying to build and grow a football club it does not always go in the one direction. Sometimes you have setbacks, sometimes it does not go the way you want it to go. But I think being in Europe, mainly for our supporters, for West Ham and for everybody involved it has been an incredible journey. To be in the semi-final last year was a great run for us and this year we have got ourselves in another semi-final. It takes some doing. I have to say the players have done a brilliant job over the last couple of years.

What did you take away from Eintracht Frankfurt and the loss to them last season?

I think we took a lot from it because we had to beat Sevilla and Lyon to get to Eintracht Frankfurt and in a way, we felt we got ourselves in a really good position. Also, our form was good and we felt good about winning the game. But, in the end, maybe a little bit of a lack of experience of being in that level of competition might have just took its toll on us a little bit. Hopefully, we will learn from it. Hopefully, we can get a little bit better and we’re all really hoping that we can make one other step and get to a final.

How will another year’s experience manifest itself for this game?

They are more experienced generally. West ham had not been in Europe for however long before last year, so that was our first year. we navigated most of it in a good way. We have done very much the same this year. we are now up against a difficult opponent who has knocked some very good teams out the tournament. There is no guarantee. You have to earn it and we will need to earn it tomorrow.

Does how excited you get for these games change with how experienced you are, or stay the same?

I think the more experienced you get the closer you get to realising you maybe can’t do it forever. So you have to take every opportunity you get to win a competition. So this is great. I’m really enjoying what we’re doing at the moment. Really, we started this competition right back at the beginning of August. We’re still in it, and we’re in the middle of May now. Great credit to the lads, and how they’ve gone about it. And to the whole squad, because we’ve used all our squad during this competition.

Jose Mourinho got a tattoo of the Europa Conference League trophy when he won it with Roma. Will you do the same if you win it?

I don’t think I’ll have a tattoo, but I’ll look forward to trying to get the final. That’s the only thing I can consider at the moment. Thoughts are no further than that. We’re focussed on the game. We see how important it is for our club and everybody connected to it, and we want to try and put on a good show.

How do your players go about embracing the occasion?

I hope the experience they gained from last year will give them a little bit of that. We have some really talented players, experienced players, we have a couple of younger boys as well. Hopefully they can all work together and get the result. It’s a big game for us. We’re fully aware of that.

Do you think there could be potential surprises in store? Will you surprise them? Can they surprise you?

They’re doing remarkably well in the Dutch league, and have done for a number of years. I think it’ll be a pretty open game. They’ve shown when they’ve been behind before what they’re capable of. We’ve got an unbeaten record in Europe away from home. So all those things added together, for me, makes it look like an interesting game.

Did you recognise the stadium from when you last played here with Everton in 2007?

It took me a wee while when I came in, because it was a long time ago now. I had to think about it for a little while. But the moment I came through the door it all came back. Louis Van Goal was the manager, and I was a young manager at the time, just starting my journey, or not just starting, but still feeling like a young coach.

Did it bring back memories of the match?

It didn’t back key moments from the game, it was just the victory. It was my dad who reminded me about the victory. My dad was out here as well and will be again tomorrow night.

What can you learn from their 2-0 win over Anderlecht in the last round?

Maybe AZ don’t start as well, we don’t know. But we have to be ready for what comes our way. We play in a league, the Premier League, where every game is so difficult. Hopefully we’ll be ready for the game tomorrow.

English teams are more used to the Champions League. What do you make of the status of the Europa Conference League?

I think all English teams want to quality for Europe. To qualify for Europe, is so difficult, the level of the teams, the quality of the teams. Mainly, six teams quality, sometimes it might be more. Last year, we missed out on being in the Europa League by 20 minutes.

We were winning and then it changed in the last game of the season and we finished sixth. For our club to finish twice very close to the Europa League, but eventually get into the Conference League, we were thrilled to get European football again.

It is so important for our football club and the players have done incredibly well over the two years. Better than I thought. I thought it would be difficult for us to adapt. If anything, the harder part is having to play on a Thursday and then on a Sunday, it takes it toll because there is no games. You can’t come back from a Thursday game and then find yourself having quite a comfortable 5-1 win the day after.

You’ve often spoken about a desire to change West Ham since you have arrived. Make it the new West Ham. Just what would getting to a final and winning it do for that vision you have for this club? How far ahead, or on schedule, is that?

For us to have qualified for Europe in the first year was incredible after just avoiding relegation. Last season we got to a semi-final of the Europa League whilst still maintaining our position in the league which was our biggest achievement, to stay in the top seven until the last day of the season, because of how long we had to go through the competition. So, for us to reach a final or in any way getting a step further than that would be a great achievement. It would be a step forward and something that would be good. it is about us striving to move forward even further even if there have been a couple of steps backwards. I still see getting to a final would be another big step forward.

Does this club need that step forward? Feel the pressure of what it could potentially do for West Ham?

No, not at all. Every club needs a final. Every club needs European football if they can get it. We are really fortunate. We are not under any pressure because it is a thrill we are in this situation. It really is.

Do West Ham now have a new-found respect for what they have done in Europe?

I don’t know. Maybe that is a question for the Dutch boys. I would say West Ham are now viewed greater in Europe than we have done in the past few years. We have got some really good young players and exciting talent and over the few years we have been a good watch. I am hoping we can continue to be that right the way through to the final.

In isolation, is this the biggest game in the club’s history since 2006 FA Cup final?

Probably a game for the West Ham boys who’ve been here longer than me. Certainly for me, it’s a huge game. We want to reach a cup final. It would be great for the football club if we could do so. We have a really difficult opponent. We’re going to have to earn it. There’s no gimmies in football.

There is a moat around the stadium. Do you see yourself having to breach this fortress tomorrow?

No doubt we will. AZ will have to do what they have to do, we have to do what we have to do. It’s as big a game for them as it is for us. We’ll have to earn it. We’ll have to earn everything we can tomorrow.

Does history have any bearing on this game, given their lack of European home defeats in the club’s entire history?

It’s an incredible record in Europe they have here. It really is. We’ve only started our European campaign really the last couple of years. If you looked at our record, you’d have to say, West Ham have got really good record the last couple of years. But Alkmaar have got a super record, no doubt about that

The Irons do need to guard against complacency ,however, like in last weeks game – but I would be more than happy with an ugly goalless draw to get us through to the final


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