David Moyes admits it is ‘impossible for West Ham to challenge on three fronts amid Covid-19’


David Moyes admits it’s almost impossible for West Ham to challenge on three fronts in the middle of football’s Covid crisis.

The Hammers face three games in the eight days starting with their visit from Leeds in the FA Cup third round on Sunday.

A rescheduled Premier League clash against Norwich follows on Wednesday before Leeds return to the London Stadium next Sunday.

David Moyes believes the Covid crisis prevents West Ham competing across three fronts

Moyes’s side sit just a point outside the Premier League top four in the race for the Champions League spots while also competing in the knockout stages of the Europa League.

The Scot is expected to rotate his squad to face Leeds after calling the Premier League’s decision to plonk the Norwich game into the middle of next week ‘pretty disappointing’.

‘I think at the moment it is nearly an impossible balance to get it right,’ said Moyes, who confirmed there had been further positive Covid tests in his squad.

‘Whatever you do, you’ll ultimately be judged. I would love to have a good run at the FA Cup. I want to do well in the Europa League if I can do that as well. 

The Hammers face three games in the eight days starting with Leeds in the FA Cup on Sunday

The Hammers face three games in the eight days starting with Leeds in the FA Cup on Sunday

A rescheduled Premier League clash against Norwich City follows on Wednesday evening

A rescheduled Premier League clash against Norwich City follows on Wednesday evening

‘It was our league position last season that gave us the chance to be in the Europa League so you don’t want to give up your Premier League games very easily, we want to try to challenge the top teams. 

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‘The balance of the whole thing is really difficult to get right. We will attempt to do that and try to put a really good team out against Leeds, whether it be in the Cup or League we will try to do both as best we can.’

It’s more than 40 years since Trevor Brooking’s header brought West Ham their third and most recent FA Cup in a 1-0 win against Arsenal in 1980. The Hammers reached the final in 2006 but have only reached the quarter-finals twice since.

Moyes believes it’s been long enough for someone else to write themselves into West Ham folklore.

‘It is time. We get asked these questions every year, but the truth is we do. I think we have got a team that could easily, given the right draw, given the right moment, challenge anyone for the FA Cup. Overall, we have got to get through the first tie. It’s a tough tie.’

There’s even more romance in the air for the club’s cup run this season with club captain Mark Noble embarking on his final campaign. It’s 17 years this weekend since a teenage Noble made his first start for the club in an FA Cup tie against Norwich.

West Ham sit a point outside the Premier League top four in the race for the Champions League

West Ham sit a point outside the Premier League top four in the race for the Champions League

It's more than 40 years since Trevor Brooking's (left) header brought West Ham their third and most recent FA Cup in a 1-0 win against Arsenal in 1980. This is Mark Noble's (right) last season

It’s more than 40 years since Trevor Brooking’s (left) header brought West Ham their third and most recent FA Cup in a 1-0 win against Arsenal in 1980. This is Mark Noble’s (right) last season

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‘As a boy living in a house full of West Ham fans, I was told all the stories of how Bobby Moore and Billy Bonds lifted the FA Cup at Wembley, about Ronnie Boyce, Alan Taylor and Trevor Brooking scoring the winning goals and dreaming of one day playing for the Club in an FA Cup final,’ said Noble in the club’s programme for Sunday’s game.

Moyes hailed the influence of the 34-year-old, not just on the dressing room but also on the manager.

‘He is a big influence and a big help, more importantly, for me since I came in,’ said Moyes. ‘I needed to use him for guidance on the club because he knows and has been here much longer. 

‘Guidance on the players and where the team was. The biggest compliment I could give Nobes is how he works the dressing room and interacts with the players. He is a big voice in the dressing room. He is a leader.

‘I think his development of Declan Rice and how he’s looked to put his arm around him and look after Declan…not only Declan but Ben Johnson and a few of the other young boys who have come through the academy. 

‘He’s a real West Ham boy and wants to encourage and get as many boys through so from that point of view I think he’s done a great job.’

Club captain Noble is looking to sign off in style with West Ham as he targets an FA Cup win

Club captain Noble is looking to sign off in style with West Ham as he targets an FA Cup win

West Ham and England midfielder Rice recently hailed Noble’s impact on his own career. ‘Honestly, if Nobes weren’t around, I don’t think I would have been as successful as I’ve been at West Ham,’ he said. ‘You can speak to him about anything and if I do something wrong, even in training, he will tell me straight away. Makes me think, wow, he’s still on me.’

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Noble will retire at the end of the season and, whether it ends with FA Cup glory or not, Moyes says that his captain will still have a role at the club beyond his playing days.

‘I can see Nobes still being around here in the future,’ said Moyes. ‘I don’t know exactly if it will come on the coaching field but certainly around the club he is an inspiration.

‘To be at one club for that time, to play the games you have. His performance against Watford the other day was terrific. You could be getting so near to your retirement but yet come out and put in the performance he did just shows his level of professionalism.

‘I don’t think he’s missed a day training this season, maybe a couple with his toe. But apart from that he’s been nearly out on the training pitch every day. I can only praise him for what he’s doing.’



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