David Moyes is “proud” to have put West Ham in contention for a Champions League place, and thanked four players in particular for instilling a winning mentality recently.
West Ham returned to the top four thanks to their 3-2 win over Leicester. They started the game strongly and took a three-goal lead. However, they have dropped points from such positions before and may have been nervous when their opponents pulled two goals back.
Ultimately, the Hammers held on, earning them a crucial three points. They now have a one-point cushion over fifth place and the same distance separates them from Leicester in third.
They have seven games remaining to stay in the European territory, which would be a remarkable achievement from Moyes.
The manager insists he would be happy to be in any European competition, but is proud to be in contention for the Champions League.
“We have teams in the top four and teams below, overall we are into the period where we take it one game at a time,” he said. “This is new for us; it has been a long time since we were up there.
“It sounds great that we can be considered Champions League contenders. We want to try and be in European football of some sort.”
To make sure of that, they will have to avoid further drop-offs in concentration. Indeed, Moyes was disappointed with another instance of his team letting their opponents get back into a game.
“Disappointed with the last 20-30 mins,” he said. “For 50-60 minutes we played really well, so a little disappointed with that and we need to get out the habit of going three up and conceding goals.
“The first time it happened against Arsenal it was a surprise but then Wolves and now again.”
Ultimately, as long as they score more goals than their opponents, West Ham will continue to get results. Loanee Jesse Lingard played a pivotal role again and Moyes knows he will be key to their end-of-season form.
“He has been crucial the way he has come in and played and his attitude,” he said. “I didn’t expect him to get so many goals so long may it continue
“Jesse is in a really good place and in the position to score we want him to score and we needed someone to stand up without Micky [Antonio] in the team. And he and Jarrod did that.
“His confidence is so good and we hope he is enjoying it as well.”
In addition to Lingard, Moyes named Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek as two players who have instilled a winning mentality at the club.
“Vladimir and Tomas have played most of their career in a winning team and Jesse too at Manchester United, so hoping they can come in and bring us that.”
Another player who will have a similar role is captain Mark Noble. He has fallen down the pecking order this season and the next one will be his last with the club, but has grown in importance again recently.
“I said at the start of the season he would have a big part to play and he has a huge part to play,” Moyes insisted.
“We can’t hide the fact we miss Declan [Rice] and Mick but Noble has come in and done a great job.”
Lingard outlines West Ham learning
Lingard once again proved his quality by scoring two goals. The Manchester United-owned midfielder is enjoying his fresh start in London and admits he and his new teammates are still learning.
He told Sky Sports: “We almost made a mess of it at the end. It has been like that for three games.
“We are still learning. We take the positives and negatives from the game.
“It seems we always start off really good, quick and on the front foot and we put teams under pressure and, if we can start in the second half like that, then we can push on for four or five goals.”
On his goal-scoring form, Lingard added: “I’m picking up good positions, picking up positions where the ball has fallen and it’s down to me to put the ball in the back of the net.
“(It is down to) confidence, instinct, knowing your players, knowing where the right-back and left-back are going to put it and being in the right position.”
Lingard will now be hoping to inspire West Ham to retain their place in the Champions League spots. He said it was a motivating factor for the final stretch of the season.
“It’s great. We’re in something to fight for and each week we’re playing something like a cup final and we’re doing our best to get the three points.
“Like today again, we ground out the win, we held out for the win and we held on to the three points.”