What is the team news and how are things looking with Ryan Fredericks?
Well, he’s probably the only player with any of your major concerns over. He felt his groin where he had an injury prior to it before. So he’s being assessed at the moment, he won’t be a fit for this game, but we’re hoping that it’s not too serious but we’ll know more after the results and tests probably at the start of next week.
How concerning is that because obviously at the moment you need all your players fit?
We’re very fortunate we’ve got a couple of other right-backs who we can play if we have a problem there but you’re right with the number of games we’ve got in the schedule we want them all to be fit and ready to play.
I’m not sure how bad Ryan’s is. I am hoping it is something that is quite short and quick, but we’re going to wait to see what the assessment comes back with.
Mic is fit, in the main we’ll get a fully fit squad of players. So hopefully they’ll all be ready to go again.
We saw Jarrod Bowen leading the line on Wednesday and attracting attention with his performance. How pleased are you with him and does that show that he can step into that role when needed?
Yes, that is right. We found it very difficult to get a replacement in to play the No.9 role but always in my head, I thought Jarrod was capable given a chance to play the role I thought he would be fine. He plays other positions as well, he is such a good boy to work with, he wants to play, he wants the games and has been really good for us since he signed. He deserves the plaudits he is getting because he played well the other night and showed his versatility as well he can play as a forward or as a wide player.
How much of a lift was that result on Wednesday given what happened on the weekend? I think the big smile on Mark Noble’s face at the end said it all.
There was a definite lift because we felt as if we were really unfortunate in the game on Sunday to at least not take something from the game, but that is the way football goes.
The other night we got back on it but it’s a different competition we were desperate to take points in the Premier League but I think that trying to win, trying to keep momentum going there was always the chance we could lose to Manchester United on Wednesday but to get a win was a really good result for the players who did a great job. Their energy the way that they worked and I have to praise and the staff who worked really hard in getting them prepared and ready for the game.
What do you make of Leeds United? It has been a difficult start to the season for them and on paper, you will be favourites for this one.
Well, I think that would only be because of results and because of the way Leeds have started but I think if you’ve watched games I think everybody will see that they have had quite a difficult start to the season with some of the games.
I’m a big admirer of the manager [Marcelo] Bielsa because of his record and the way his teams play. I think everybody enjoys watching Leeds United.
I think they are a great football club Leeds, fantastically supported and so it’s a really tough game it really is, the energy of Leeds put into their game and go about it is going to be a test for any team who plays them and it will certainly be a test for us.
You lost one in the Premier League but you went toe to toe with Manchester United in both of those matches. How pivotal do you think those results and performances can be in terms of giving your team further belief that they are certainly moving in the right direction?
As a team we all sense it, we sense it around the training ground and the club that everybody is moving in the right direction. From that point of view, I think if we are going to try and realise how good we are we have to play Manchester United regularly, we have to play Manchester City, Liverpool and we need to challenge ourselves against the best. That is the only way we can find out [how big] the gap is and what we need to do to challenge them.
Ultimately, we’re still sort of new to the whole thing and still trying to find our level. But I think what we learned last year what we’re showing at the start of this season I see no reason why we should not keep challenging the top teams.
You are winless in the Premier League in the last three and so what’s the mood like in the camp going into this match? Is it one of pressure or just relaxed knowing that performances will reap the rewards in terms of results?
I think the players have certainly deserved to have won [more] we didn’t deserve to lose on Sunday. And the other games have been tough, the Premier League is tough so that can happen but I have got to say we only have one defeat this season. So I think to get to this point, without losing a game in pre-season as well, is a really good place to be at this moment in time.
Alex Kral made his debut against Manchester United in the League Cup. What did you make of his performance and how important is it for you to have so many reliable options in the middle of the park?
For Alex, he is getting to know us and the Premier League. Even [Nikola] Vlasic has had a little bit of a taste of the Premier League. For Alex Kral it was new and I was glad to get him his first game and he did a really good job.
I think he’s got a bit to do and he’s got more to add to his game and he’ll get that as he goes on. You look to last year and Said Benrahma coming from the Championship and how long it took him to really settle into becoming a Premier League player. Very rarely do I expect a player I have brought in to hit the ground running, I often think it is going to take six months to get acclimatised. Alex played really well and it will give us some options which is great for us.
Leeds have conceded five goals at home already, have you told your team to go out there and test their defence really early on?
I think we’re just going out to try and do what West Ham have done recently which is trying to be positive in our play. We are trying to score goals but the key is also having a strong defence and we know that we will need to be strong defensively because of the way Leeds play
I think if you look at the play most people would consider Leeds a really positive team so we have to think of that as well so there are two sides to it, and we’ll try and attack them and we’ll try and score when we can, but we’ll have another tough job, making sure that we defend very well against them.
From your perspective, what is it about Marcelo Bielsa that makes him a coach’s coach?
Well, I’ve always admired him wherever he has been. I remember when he was at Atletico Bilbao and I went to watch his team against Manchester United and I actually based one of my [teams on that] drew 4-4 with Everton. Maybe that result stopped Manchester United from winning the league the season before Sir Alex [Ferguson] left. I saw how Atletico Bilbao played against Manchester United and how he played and I thought that is how we are going to have to try and play that way with Everton.
Leeds have lots of energy but I think they are more than that as well, they are a really good passing team and I don’t necessarily mean short passing, they are an excellent long passing team and for that, the manager deserves a lot of credit. He does great work with them and has done great work with Leeds United.
How much satisfaction do you get from putting a structure in that makes it difficult for opponents?
I don’t know any successful team that has got a poor defence. Nearly all successful teams are based on having success defensively, meaning clean sheets and not [conceding] many goals.
If you look at Premier League history most of the teams at the top have probably had a good defensive record. All the attention quite often goes to the goals they have scored but I think at the moment we’ve got a bit of both here. I think we’ve got a really good attacking look to us, we had that last season and we’re finding some more difficulties with the way teams are playing against us now but I think we’ve also tried to add a little to our defensive job to try and make us harder to play against them and add more players and more competition to it as well.
How pleased are you with what Kurt Zouma offers, what he has already brought and what he can still bring?
Well I think if you are 26 and a centre-half, and I was a centre-half, you are not quite ready to be right at the top there’s much more improvement to come. I think the best years are still to come as a centre-half and hopefully, that will be at West Ham
I do think that there are things where we have seen that we would like to help him. He’s come from a club with a winning mentality, that is used to winning trophies so I hope he brings that to us as well.
He is experienced playing for France who are probably number two or three in the world ranking. So to be involved in that squad of players says something about him.
We’ve got good competition at centre-half at the moment, we had terrific performances from Issa Diop and Craig Dawson so it is what I want, competition in all the positions, [especially] with all the games we have this season.