Carl Jenkinson has not ruled out a permanent move to West Ham after enjoying an impressive first half of the season at the Boleyn.
The right back, on a season-long loan from Arsenal, has been a key player for Allardyce this season and admits he is enjoying life in East London. ‘We’ll see what happens at the end of the season,’ he told Blowing Bubbles. ‘I’m loving it here and you can never say never, but I’m not making any decisions right now. I just want to keep working hard, do the best that I can for this team, then we’ll see what happens.’
There have been a more than a few eyebrows raised by Arsenal fans at Arsene Wenger’s decision to let Jenkinson go to West Ham, especially after some of his recent performances, but the England international had no doubts about joining the Hammers. ‘When I signed here I knew it was a club going in the right direction,’ he continued. ‘I knew the players that had been brought in would make a big difference to the team and the style that we were going to play. There were a few factors that helped me understand what it was going to be like coming in here, and it’s fulfilled my expectations and more to be honest.’
Not only did Jenkinson believe the Hammers were heading in the right direction, the 22-year-old also admits he felt West Ham would have a strong season. ‘I’d be lying if I said we’d be in the European places come the middle of December because you’ve got some massive clubs up there so we’ve done fantastically well and at the minute we’re punching above our weight so long may that continue,’ he said during an interview with Sky Sports.
‘Having said that it’s not like we’ve been nicking results and don’t deserve to be where we are. The way we’ve played has warranted the results we’ve got. ‘You could argue and there are some examples that spring to mind like at Old Trafford, where we should have got a better result really. We could have drawn that, if not won it, so there have been games where we could have got more.
One of Jenkinson’s strengths so far this season has been the quality of crosses he has been whipping into the oppositions’ boxes – two of which resulted in goals against Burnley and Swansea. But neither moment of individual brilliance makes Jenkinson’s best highlights for the first half of the season.
‘There have been quite a few highlights,’ Jenkinson, who has played for Arsenal 37 times, continued. ‘Beating Manchester City and Liverpool at home were two fantastic results. It doesn’t get much better than that. ‘I guess at the time Liverpool was a game where it was a huge win and we really kicked on from there. We almost went into the City game half expecting a result because we’d been playing so well and we knew what we were capable of. So they’re the two that spring to mind. Fantastic results and fantastic performances.’
Used to going into games expecting to get a win at Arsenal, the right back now believes there is more of a winning mentality at West Ham. ‘I’ve got a few friends who are West Ham fans and they say it’s a completely different feeling being a fan this season, which is fantastic and is all we want,’ he continued. ‘All the boys are really enjoying playing with each other, the spirit within the team is great and it’s a really good environment to be in.
‘Obviously I came in this season and it was all new to me but I was able to settle in so quickly because the lads are fantastic, the spirit is brilliant and that’s going to stand us in good stead for the season.’ He added: ‘We spend a lot of time on the training ground together and everybody gets on really well. ‘I’ve played in teams where it’s felt similar but I’ve also played in teams where it’s not like that and you have a few bad eggs. Not everyone is going to get on so well.
‘It’s the same in every working environment but here that’s definitely not the case. Everyone gets on and that helps on the pitch.’ Used to playing with the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott, Jenkinson jumps to the defence of his current team mates when asked if the level of quality at West Ham has surprised him.
‘If you look at our team, there’s an awful lot of quality in it and there’s a lot of quality on the bench as well,’ he said. ‘I guess that’s a great thing for the manager, he’s got a lot of strength in depth and there’s a few players on there who aren’t used to being there. That’s the sign of a good team, to have that strength in depth.
‘We’ve got a lot of quality throughout the squad and the players who’ve come in who haven’t been playing regularly have done really well so I think that’s going to be important because it’s a long season, we’ve already had a few injuries and we’re going have more so the strength in depth is vital.’ Before the start of the season it was unknown how the likes of Diafra Sakho, Aaron Cresswell and Enner Valencia would adapt to the Premier League and Jenkinson has praised the manager and chairmen for the players brought in.
‘Diafra Sakho was a top scorer in the French second division but it’s completely different to the Premier League. They took a gamble on him and it’s turned out to be fantastic, he’s been outstanding for us,’ he said. ‘The credit goes to the manager and chairmen for making those bold calls and obviously they’ve worked. ‘With the money spent on Valencia, there was always going to be a lot expected of him but he’s more than stood up to that.
‘But like I said we’ve got an awful lot of quality in the squad and also the team spirit, which makes settling in easier. ‘Everyone comes in, enjoys training, enjoys working with each other and it makes it less of a chore every day and that’s all you really want.’ Asked if West Ham’s impressive first half of the season has taken the pressure off the players and allowed them to play with more freedom, Jenkinson continued: ‘Maybe. It’s a lot more difficult when you’re down at the bottom of the league fighting.
‘We’re in a nice place at the minute so like you said it does give you the licence to play with freedom and we’re doing that at the minute. ‘A lot of my friends say we’re playing in a completely different style. I wasn’t here last year so I can’t really relate to that but they’ve been watching for seasons. ‘They’ve said it’s been a joy to watch at the minute so, when you’re high up the table you have the licence to do that. Maybe it’s different when you’re down the bottom but everyone is playing with freedom and that’s really showing.’
He added: ‘I’ve been given the licence to go forward which is what I want to do as an attacking fullback but it’s also evident here that you have to do your defensive duties. ‘From a personal point of view that’s going to get the best out of me because the gaffer and the coaches want me and the team to defend properly as a shape and as a defensive unit but when we get the ball we play our football and express ourselves with the talent we have in the team.
‘The first thing for me is to defend but I haven’t got the chains on where I’ve got to stay back and defend. I’ve got the licence to go forward and play. I think that’s the same with everyone in the team.’ But has there been a conscious effort to put more emphasis on attacking this season? ‘At the end of the day you keep clean sheets, you defend well, you win games,’ Jenkinson replied. ‘The gaffer knows that, the coaching staff knows that. It’s quite obvious.
‘We’ve got the players to go forward and get goals but there’s got to be a focus on keeping it tight at the back. ‘If we can keep a clean sheet we’ve got a good chance of winning the game so of course that’s the focus but it is for most teams to be honest.’ Jenkinson says it is inevitable the side will ship at few goals at some stage as they are approaching games with such an attacking mindset, but claims Sam Allardyce has encouraged the team to be positive.
‘I think it’s a sacrifice we probably take and possibly may leak a few goals. It’s going to happen because of the style that we play but the important thing, and what will really make us a successful team, is if we can get that balance right. ‘In terms of our defensive unit and keeping the goals out and still managing to express ourselves going forward, I think that’ll be a real test for us.
‘I think we’re starting to get that balance now but it’s something we’re going have to master if we want to be up there at the end of the season.” Valuable points have been picked up by West Ham this season after going a goal down, including victories against WBA and Swansea, and Jenkinson puts that down to West Ham’s team spirit this season. ‘Stoke was a very tough day, they were good, but in the end we had to dig in and some individual brilliance from Stewart [Downing] got us back in the game and we ended up coming away with a result,’ he said.
‘There’s a lot of fight in this team. There’s a never-say-die attitude and that’s going to stand us in good stead for the season.We’re not giving up at the end of the day and we’re doing really well coming back from them sort of positions so hopefully it continues.’ Asked if he feels West Ham can beat anyone, he replied: ‘I think so and I think we’ve proved that so far. We can’t get carried away but we’ve proven we can beat anyone.
‘We don’t have any fear at the moment which is a good thing to have in a team.’