What have you made of Southampton under Ralph Hasenhuttl?
I think they’ve been an interesting side. At times they’re capable of competing with all the best teams. I think their style is something which he has implemented really well and Southampton and I think it has worked well for them.
They’ve had 11 days between games, is that a big advantage for them?
I didn’t know they had that number of games but you tell me that and it’s certainly an advantage at this time of year. It’ll be something where you hope to get that time and get the players the time to rest and get them back focused on their football. If you’re playing games all the time it makes it harder.
That’s how football works. We enjoy the games, we’re enjoying being in the competitions and having a run in the cup and I want us to get used to that. Hopefully, we are getting right to the end line if we can as far as cup competitions go.
One win in six in the Premier League – what is that slump down to?
It’s down to a fantastic start to the season which got us fifth and even fourth. I think we have been so good that it would have been very difficult probably to maintain that all the way. I look at clubs that have had different times of it. Some teams started the season poorly and have picked up a bit now, there are some teams that started really well and are having a little bit of a wobble.
I think when you play the number of players we do you’re asking the players to keep those levels p and it can be really difficult. We need a team that is growing and trying to build. We probably had 18 months with no real problems so it wouldn’t be unusual for us to have a little bit of an up-down here or there.
What are the challenges of getting a squad ready during this period?
The challenges are trying to make sure that you get players recovered quickly and trying to decide the best way you can play people. What you don’t want is to get yourself any serious injuries that may see you lose players for four to six weeks because they’ve been overplayed.
I look back and think we’ve had this schedule for as long as I can remember. I used to go and watch games on Boxing Day and on New Years’ Day but all those things were part of football. I think because of the amount of games we’re asking with no free weeks for the players, very little time off, I do believe that something needs to change. But that’s for the experts to decide not me.
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You’re seeing the players on the training pitch every day and don’t seem too upset about the recent form – is that a fair summation?
I think the players through the season will have periods where they slow down. They’ll be periods when they’re right at the top of it with confidence and there’ll be periods where they’re not quite as good as that. You have to try and manage them through it and help them. We’re no different to anybody else – we’ve got to get through it like all the clubs.
But for us to keep consistent is really important and hanging in around the top for as long as we can. It’s great that I’m not talking about staying away from the bottom three as that has really been the topic for West Ham a lot of the time but we’ve changed it very quickly and we’re really enjoying being up around all the top clubs.
Do you remember when they used to play on Christmas Day and on Boxing Day?
I do, actually. It was a different period. By the way, there was hardly any players then too as you probably only had one substitute. It was a completely different era. The world has changed in many different ways and it has in football as well.
If you beat Southampton and Watford everybody will start getting worried about you finishing in the top four rather than Arsenal or Spurs or whoever it might be
We know we have to win the games. You won’t finish higher if you win games but we’ve got ourselves into a really good position and a stronger position than we were in last season. From that point of view, we see it is as a positive. Yes, we would like to try and hold onto that and keep challenging the team in third.
At the moment our job is to get back up to fourth so we’ll use every opportunity to do so. The season chops and changes though and we’ve had a really good year. We want to finish it strongly and go into next season and next year knowing that we have a tea, here which can compete and challenge and be successful if we possibly can.
Need to be scoring goals though which West Ham haven’t been doing much of recently in the league?
I think if you actually look at the goals difference column in the Premier League we have plus seven. I think the only teams with more than us are Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea. I have to say we are probably one of the sides that have scored goals. I take your point that they’ve dried up a little bit but I don’t think a lack of goals from a team that has scored all season is all that. I think our goalscoring has been pretty good.
Southampton were the first team to stop West Ham scoring this season – is that a cause for concern in the reverse fixture?
We haven’t scored away from home recently. We’ve been getting goals at home but we need to score a few more away from home. I need to try and look to see the reason for not doing that as well. You want to win all the games and Southampton were the first. I don’t think Southampton are a team who can say they are easy to score against or play against but I think they make it really difficult for you to play against them.