West Ham manager Moyes calls on his big players to step up against Alkmaar
West Ham are seeking to reach their first European final for 24 years as they take on Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in the Europa Conference League semi-finals.
And Hammers manager David Moyes has called on his big players to “stand up” and be counted as they prepare for the first leg at the London Stadium on Thursday.
Moyes’s side took a step closer to Premier League survival on Sunday when they beat Manchester United to move seven points above the drop zone.
And, as the Scottish manager’s thoughts turned from the relegation fight to the chance of European glory, he said: “I think we have big players who have played in big games and big competitions. This is as close to a big occasion as we can get at the moment and it is where you hope the big players stand up and showcase themselves.
“And, if we play as we have over the last couple of games, then we give ourselves every chance.”
West Ham made it to the semi-finals of the Europa League last season, losing 3-1 on aggregate to Eintracht Frankfurt and Moyes said he is not underestimating the difficulty of reaching a first European final since they won the Intertoto Cup in 1999.
“We have had two really successful years over the past seasons,” said Moyes. “This year has been a bit disappointing [in the league] but in this competition, we have been excellent.
“It is incredibly difficult to win any of the major trophies with the standard of the football teams you have to beat.
“What we did in Europe and the standards of the team we had to beat [Gent] to reach the semi-finals was a good achievement.
West Ham 1 Man United 0: Player ratings
WEST HAM PLAYER RATINGS: Lukasz Fabianski – 7. Commanded his area well, rushing out to deny Man United’s forwards on several occasions. A very tidy display. EPA
“You can’t take European football for granted, with so many teams trying to be in this position.”
Moyes looks likely to be without first-choice centre-back Kurt Zouma for the first leg after the French defender injured his ankle in last month’s defeat to Crystal Palace. The player resumed training with the squad on Wednesday but will probably not be ready to feature against Alkmaar.
“There is a good chance tomorrow is too soon but we will see how he is,” said Moyes on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Hammers’ forward Jarrod Bowen, whose partner Dani’s father is former EastEnders soap actor Danny Dyer, says he knows exactly what winning a European trophy would mean to the club’s supporters.
Dyer senior is a West Ham fan and Bowen said he has been left in no doubt about the importance of Thursday’s game.
“It’s massive,” said Bowen. “The missus’ old man is obviously on me every week. But for everyone, the whole club, it’s not been a great season but staying in the Premier League is the main aim and bringing the trophy home for the fans would be a good end to a bad season.”
Updated: May 10, 2023, 4:24 PM