David Moyes gave his virtual pre-match press conference ahead of West Ham’s game against Burnley on Bank holiday Monday.
Any chance of Michail Antonio being back for Burnley?
He is working with the physios on the grass, so I would not rule him out yet, but I do not want to rule him in so let’s hope that he has a chance.
I guess you are looking at the remaining games and trying to maximise how much you can get out of him, but at the same time not rule him out for the rest of the season?
Well, we had Aaron Creswell, Declan Rice, Arthur [Masuaku] Micky Antonio out, we had Daws [Craig Dawson] out last week, who was suspended, so we had a few out and we are trying to get them all back if we can, not just Micky, so we are working to try and get the others back as well.
When you consider what your team would be with those in it, how much of a difference do you think that would be in terms of trying to get Champions League football for next season?
Those players have been involved in all of the games most of the season, in truth we have been pretty consistent with our team selection because of not having too many injuries. It has meant we have picked consistently.
But injuries happen in all the clubs at the moment, yeah they make a difference because they are important players. Part of any manager’s job is to try and find another way and see if you can win with other players in the team and look to try and do others things if you do not have your best players.
How are you feeling about Fabian Balbuena’s red card being overturned? Is it mixed emotions because you want the player available but at the same time it justifies the act that it was a mistake by the referee?
I think we have had five out of eight red cards rescinded in recent years at West Ham, which is quite an incredible number. We have had two recently and it did affect the game.
We were going into the last ten minutes 1-0 down against Chelsea and as we have seen there is no shame in that because we just saw Real Madrid play them mid-week and Chelsea were very good in that.
It lost us a chance of probably trying to do something in the game in the last ten or 15 minutes.
Obviously, you have lost the last two but the season as a whole has been a success. How important is it you remind the players not to concentrate on the last two games?
We have not been thinking about the last two games. I am really excited about the five games to go. This time last year with five games to go I was worrying because I did not know if we were going to be a Premier League team.
I am really enjoying that we have got a good team and playing good stuff, we had a couple of results [defeats] recently but prior to that, we had not lost two games in a row, so the big thing now is to keep doing what we have been doing most of the season and that has included winning and playing well in a lot of the games and scoring goals, so we will try and do that again.
What is your view on the social media boycott and do you think it will make a difference?
Well, I don’t do social media, but what I would say is the abuse people have been getting through it, and I have been reading about it, has been terrible, certainly, the racial abuse is diabolical.
I think that certainly within this industry of football we are always going to be criticised and the more you open yourself for it the more you get, so probably the reason why I do not do it myself.
So far this season players at all of the capital’s top-flight clubs have been subject to horrendous abuse – from Arsenal’s Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Willian to Tottenham’s Son Heung-min, Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and Reece James to Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha.
No dressing room has been spared this disgusting plague. Enough is enough.
That is why the Premier League, FA, Kick It Out and Women’s Super League have been joined by clubs up and down the country as well as organisations from cricket, rugby, cycling and horse racing in staging the boycott. Above all they want the social media platforms to take more responsibility for keeping hate out of our sport.
But I would love to be part of social media because I do think it is a great platform to give your opinions and hear other people’s opinions, but while there are people on there abusing each other I do not see any point in it.
I think it is a start and it is something which we are going to have to try and improve in this sport generally about the abuse whether it be players, managers that people take, we have to try and change it and I think it is a good stand.
I am really pleased that Sky have joined that as well as have many other big companies as well.
Has the morale been any different this week or is it the same as if you had won any other game?
We do not like losing but the morale is no different because we know we are in a good position. We are fifth in the league and we know that we can hopefully get higher so that is the job.
But if somebody had said to me ‘you are fifth in the league with five games to go’ at the start I would have said ‘thanks very much’. I would have liked to have been fourth, I would have liked to have won last week or the week before, which might have kept us fourth, but overall we are in a good place. We are excited by the games coming up and to take on the challenges and see where we end up.
Do you think if you lose against Burnley that will have an outcome on whether you do make Champions League or not, is this a decisive moment for your team?
I don’t think so, there are still games to come which could alter that. But I have been using the same words all year, we are trying to hang onto the coattails of the teams up there. We have only been in the top four on three occasions this year, so we have been one of the teams chasing.
We have not been in there that many weeks so we are doing everything we can to hang onto them and who knows we might take it to the last game of the season. We have had a good season, a lot of things have worked for us and I am still really hoping we can get into the big one, but if we don’t I would settle for whatever else comes next.
You have conceded 11 goals in five games, you have been quite consistent and solid at the back for the majority of the season, what do you think that is down to? Have you tried to do anything differently over the last few games to try to fix that and concede fewer?
Mostly it is not having Declan Rice.
Is that all it is down to not having Declan Rice?
He’s not a bad player.
Is he that important to your team that he makes that much of a difference?
I think so yeah. He played in the game where we drew three each against Arsenal so you could take that away, but he is incredibly important. But as long as we keep scoring the goals we are scoring I am quite happy as well.
Credit: Tom Clark:Football.London