Team news and an update on Jarrod Bowen?
Well, we’ve only just got ourselves back in and we’re just recovered, everybody checks to see. I couldn’t give you a complete answer to that at this present time but we seem to have come through the game relatively okay. We’ve got one or two knocks and niggles and regarding Jarrod, he’s not going to be available for the game at the weekend. But we’re hoping that he can continue to make some improvement. He’s slowly getting better.
What did you make of Declan rice last night, especially after he just came back from that awful virus?
He had a really bad virus and he was unwell on the weekend so I thought he came back and did really well for his first game back. It’s something which is easy to say. It’s not unexpected that he plays at that level because he is a very good player.
What’s your view on Chelsea’s recent news and the impact it will have across the Premier League?
It’s an incredibly difficult position for Chelsea Football Club to be in. I think over many years Roman Abramovich has done a great job for Chelsea Football Club and for their supporters. It’s a really unfortunate situation the club are in. It’s a situation that nobody expected and nobody thought could ever possibly happen. So it’s difficult for Chelsea, it really is a horrible position to be in. But let’s hope that Vladimir Putin decides to end all this so we can all move on as it’s something we always want.
What do you make of Aston Villa?
I’ve always thought a lot of Aston Villa. I’ve said since last year that they’ve got good players and some really talented young players. They signed well in the transfer window. But the Premier League is full of good teams, not just Aston Villa. Everybody you play at the moment – there are a lot of really difficult, competitive games. Aston Villa will be a competitive game.
What do you think your chances are of finishing in the top four?
I think the chances are the same as the start of the season. Trying to break into the top four. In truth, there’s always been a top six. If we can continue to be in and around it and see if we can be there long enough maybe we can do it again. We’re certainly enjoying European football and hopefully, we can do it again. If Champions League is the word you want to use then I’m thrilled with that but obviously European football at West Ham has been really good this year.
Is the Europa League tie still wide open?
It’s a great tie. When you look at the European Cup, teams would be 1-0 down and always have a great second leg. I’m hoping this is set for a great second leg. We’re playing against a good team in European football, won the competition however many times in recent years, second in La Liga, unbeaten at home in their stadium in Seville. If you’d have said to be you’d come away from there with a 1-0 defeat then I might have taken that because it will give us a great chance in the second leg.
Had any meetings with the owners about priorities?
I’m really fortunate that the owners here are incredibly realistic and understand exactly where we are. Two years ago we were avoiding relegation. Now we’re competing in much higher areas of the league. We got into Europe and now we’re having a good first year back in Europe. But they’re incredibly realistic and understanding that there’s been a big jump really quickly and there’ll be periods where we’re maybe not so good and periods where we excel. Overall the owners have been very good and they want more of it because they’re enjoying it like we are.
How much have you felt Jarrod Bowen’s absence?
Of course, we’re going to miss his absence but in truth, we’ve only not had him for one game against Sevilla. He got taken off against Liverpool. Did we miss him? Yes. But I think we coped without him last night. But we could do with his goals which have been so important to us in the last month or so. I’m hoping we get him back. It’s a really difficult injury to diagnose completely and that’s probably the little hold up with it. I am hoping we can get him closer to fitness but he won’t be available for this weekend’s game.
What have you made of Steven Gerrard as a manager?
I’m extremely impressed. So many top-flight players quite often think that the best route to go is to go directly back into a top-flight club. But Steven Gerrard – I think it was the Under-18s and Under-23s at Liverpool where he had a couple of years of that. Then he took on a huge task at Glasgow Rangers, especially to try and stop Celtic from winning ten in a row. He took that one which itself was a monumental achievement for Rangers supporters. And also a really stressful job to manage Glasgow Rangers so he’s taken that one up there and now he’s gone and taken on a really big job in the Premier League at Aston Villa.
I like the way he’s trying to develop himself and he’s not jumped in right away thinking this will be easy and he’ll do it all quick. I think he’s tried to train himself up, get some experience and learn on the job. He’s doing a really good job.
Are Villa enjoying some momentum right now?
They’ve had some really good results but I think the Premier League this year is so close. I think there’s very little between the teams, of course, there’s quite a bit between Manchester City, Liverpool and maybe Chelsea from the rest. But I think after that there is very little between the teams from top to bottom.
Looking at the improvement in Newcastle United, you look at some of the results that Burnley have picked up in recent weeks and other teams in the bottom. So I think we’re seeing at different times of the season, different momentum swings. And you’re right I think Aston Villa are in a good moment so we’re going to have to play well to get the points