Great season last time around, how confident are you that you can continue that momentum through to this season? What can we expect to see from West Ham?
Well, I hope for much of the same and I don’t see any reason why we can’t do it again. So we will work very hard to try and achieve it, the players were terrific last season and we had a great season but that is in the past now and we are going to try and make the most of this one.
Clearly, Jesse Lingard had a big impact during his spell with you. There is still lots of talk over his future, is there any chance we will see him back at West Ham?
Well, you are talking about a Manchester United player, not a West Ham player so you need to ask Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] about that, I can only talk to you about the West Ham players.
In terms of trying to add to your team, again, another player who is not yours yet but it is thought that he could be is Nikola Milenkovic. What’s the situation with that deal? If not him, how close are you to adding it to your squad?
Again I never talk about players at other clubs because it is not what you do when you are a manager but we are trying to add to the squad if we can and we have had and have some offers in for people but not everything is coming to fruition but we are doing our best to add to the squad before the close of the window.
The fans have voiced some frustration, do you share that frustration? Is it difficult going this transfer window?
It has been a difficult window firstly because I think the market, in general, has been very quiet. I think there has been a lot of money spent at different clubs at the top end but overall I think it has been quite a quiet market.
I think we need to add to it but I don’t think West Ham supporters are frustrated I think they realise how good the team has been and they are coming back for the first time to see a lot of new players who they have not seen for 18 months who have performed really well recently.
And to see a club that’s going to be starring in a European adventure this season as well. So lots of positives.
Yeah, lots of things to look forward to, it will be hopefully a special season in many ways and hopefully, we will do positive things again in the league and also in Europe as well.
We talk about the fans, they’re obviously returning we’re going to be seeing stadiums full. But with that, does that bring some concerns for you? The fact that fans won’t have to wear masks so are you worried that your players could be at greater risk with COVID?
Well, the first thing we do want is supporters back at the games, I am really looking forward to getting crowds back.
I hope that clubs are putting protocols in place to make things as safe as we can, we are still under a lot of restrictions which I hope supporters are aware of, regarding autographs, different things like going to the crowd etc, so we need to try and keep to them.
But I hope a lot of football clubs have things in place that will allow supporters back because they have been sorely missed and we have all been in lockdown long enough now that we hope to get them into games.
How much are you looking forward to this season?
I’m really looking forward to the season because it was a great season last year and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the way the players worked, I enjoyed the results, I enjoyed lots of things about last season so we are going to go in with the same mindset.
With European football at West Ham, there is a big excitement about it and I am pleased about that.
West Ham had a really good pre-season with five wins out of seven, what was the most pleasing aspect of those friendly wins?
I think the most pleasing thing is we picked up a little bit where we left off last season. But let me tell you pre-season friendlies don’t mean anything.
I have been at clubs where you don’t win any and you get off to a great start and I have been at clubs where you win them all and then it doesn’t quite go that way.
I am not saying that it counts for anything but put it this way I would rather be winning games than losing them.
We got a lot of players good minutes, they are in pretty good physical condition. We have one or two injuries like Angelo Ogbonna as I’m sure most clubs will have but overall we are in a good place I feel.
You mentioned injuries, any injury concerns for Sunday?
We have a couple, Angelo Ogbonna had a hamstring injury he picked up against Celtic, he is back in some sort of training [Manuel] Lanzini has had a little bit of a groin problem so we are hoping that he will be okay as he is back in and around it but in the main, we have knocks and niggles here and there but hopefully everybody will be okay.
You mentioned a good start and I know Pablo Fornals mentioned it in an interview with the West Ham website about trying to carry that momentum from last season into this one, how important is it for the team’s ambitions that you do get that good start?
Well, we finished two points outside the Champions League last year so why should we not try and do that again? Or even try and find those extra two points, so I don’t think anything changes here. We are going to go and try and play well.
We did not start last season particularly well but we certainly grew into it, we had some amazing results and performances throughout the season I think the players enjoyed it and there is a lot of confidence so I hope from that point of view we can build on it and take it on again this season.
Looking at the test that is in wait this Sunday, Newcastle did the double over West Ham last season and they will have the fans back in the stadium. How much are you looking forward to that atmosphere?
Well, no doubt the Geordies will help them with their results I have no doubt about that because they have a great crowd at Newcastle.
They were one of the only teams who took both games against us, they were both strange games where we did not play particularly badly in either of the games and I still think the one later on when we had Craig Dawson sent off turned the game.
But Newcastle have done really well under Steve Bruce who has done a great job, so many were writing him off but he went out and proved everybody wrong and they had a strong finish at the end of the season.
Said Benrahma has looked really good in pre-season, do you think he has benefitted from having a pre-season with the club because, of course, he did not have one with the club when he joined.
I think that is a good question. He missed a little bit of pre-season this year because he had games with Algeria so he was given a bit longer off but he has come back and looked sharp and is in good condition.
Not everybody hits the ground running in the Premier League and maybe he just needed a little bit of time to sit back, look at it and reconsider what we need him to do and for him to make the most of it.
Scoring and playing in pre-season is great but now the big games start so let’s see how he does now.
Source by Football London