This West Ham side will be up there with the greatest sides in our history. They have won a major trophy, a European one at that, and there aren’t many West Ham sides that can boast that.
But I think it’s really difficult to compare all the great West Ham sides, like the one I played with in 86, to Moyes’ Boys. What we achieved in 85/86 was over the course of a season, we played more games, whereas the Conference League competition, although played over the course of the season, only had a quarter of the games.
And I think this team would, in many people’s eyes, be behind the team in the 60s that won the FA Cup in 64 and the Cup Winners’ Cup in 65. There’s also the team that won the FA Cup in 1980. The debate on which side is placed where in the pecking order will continue but one thing for certain is that this current squad has written their names into the history books and will be remembered forever.
With our Conference League success and our journey to the Europa League semi-final in the last two seasons, West Ham have set the yardstick for the likes of Brighton and Villa for the upcoming campaign. Whilst it’s a great achievement for both to have qualified for Europe, both clubs and their fans will be looking at what West Ham have done and wanting to try to emulate that.
There will be pressure added on them, and as we know, every season is different in terms of how you perform in the league, which could have an impact on their European campaign. Brighton certainly need to add more players if they are going to be able to cope with the demands of playing in Europe and who knows, we might actually beat them this season.
For us, you’d have thought with this being our third season of playing in Europe and the demands of playing Thursdays and Sundays that we should be used to this now. We do understand Europe a lot more now and it’s a great position to be in, but in truth, it’ll only take a couple injuries and that’ll put us on the back foot.
One player likely to be leaving West Ham this summer is Declan Rice and the situation regarding his future is out of our hands as the club will be waiting for others to come in and make a bid. If he is going to leave, I want it to be done quickly. I want us to be in a position of being able to reinvest the money generated by Rice’s sale to recruit his replacements.
I don’t want this to drag on all summer and him leave at the end of August without us having brought anyone else in or have the time to do so. From Dec’s point of view, I get it, he wants to be playing Champions League football, and this might determine where he goes this summer with the likes of Chelsea not having any European football.
I would think Arsenal are the favourites. They are in London so he doesn’t have to upsticks. But Man City would also be a good move for him and he would win trophies there but he might not play as much so that would be the downside to that one.
Man United could be a possibility but I think they wouldn’t be favourites over Arsenal or Man City. Newcastle might be an option too but I’m not sure they would want to stump up the money.
Having said all of this, I would like him to stay if he can be persuaded. As I say, I would like this Rice situation to be resolved sooner rather than later and then I hope we can look forward to a much more settled season.
The signings we made last summer have had a year in London and playing in the Premier League so should be in a position to kick on. It feels like our attacking players have a much better understanding of Paqueta now – you only need to look at Bowen’s movement for his winning goal in Prague – and hopefully another pre-season will help everyone gel that bit more.
More than anything, we need to avoid picking up too many injuries this summer like we did last year because that really put things up in the air for us. One player who I felt is our most underrated player is Benrahma. It doesn’t matter how well he’s playing, he’s always one of the first players to be brought off.
I’ve not looked at the stats but I’m sure the majority of starts he’s had, he’s been taken of regardless if he’s our best player. Just look at the final, he scores the penalty and still gets taken off.
I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in the Europa League and we’ll get a better idea of how we might do once the group stages are drawn in September. We’ll also know what our summer transfer activity has been like, how we’ve been in pre-season and how we’ve started the season.
Right now, there needs to be more investment in the team going into a harder European competition because I don’t think the squad is probably not strong enough currently. But I don’t want to take anything away from what Moyes has achieved at West Ham.
There are only three European competitions you can win and West Ham have won one of them. It’s fantastic. I think it ended up being a good season and I just can’t imagine if we hadn’t won the final. Would Moyes still be in a job? I don’t know.
For the fans, I’m sure ecstasy doesn’t quite give it justice to how they have been feeling. And I wasn’t surprised by the turnout for the parade because of what I know winning this competition meant to people.