Eclan Rice says West Ham’s dressing room was left ‘numbed’ by last week’s stinging loss to Newcastle, but believes a return to their old ways of counter-attacking could be key to the Hammers’ chances of survival .
The Hammers were humiliated 5-1 by the Magpies in the Champions League at London Stadium on Wednesday night but bounced back with a vital 1-0 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage at the weekend.
After last Sunday’s win over Southampton by the same scoreline, David Moyes’ side took six points from three games in seven days and moved up to 13th in the Premier League table to at least temporarily appease the relegation fears before this week. Europa Conference League quarter-final against Ghent.
Rice praised his teammates’ response to Newcastle’s loss, which came after Moyes made five changes to his roster, including recalling experienced defenders Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell and Vladimir Coufal, and switched to a 4 formation. -4-2.
“The director entered [after the Newcastle game] and it was really quiet, everyone was numb, hurt,” Rice said. “In all honesty, the manager came in and said, ‘I hope you’re all ready to play on Saturday. If I were you, I would go play tomorrow’. This is also my mentality, and I know it is for many others.
“The beauty of football is you always get another game to prove your worth and after that loss we knew how important the day was. To win this today, fair play to the manager because there was a lot pressure on him, a lot of pressure on us. It was a big win.”
Moyes’ squad selection at Craven Cottage saw him name an XI without any of the eight signings from last summer, with the January arrival of Danny Ings the only player not involved in the successful campaign of the season last, when West Ham finished seventh and reached the semi-finals of the Europa League.
The £170m frenzy that followed was designed to see the Irons get going and signings like that of Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paqueta came in a bid to transform the club’s style of play.
However, on Saturday Moyes’ side delivered a performance that looked more like West Ham of old and the scoreline could have been more comfortable had they taken one of the many late chances at the break.
“If you look at the last two years, we probably played counterattacking football,” Rice added. “So today was probably us from the past two years in terms of sitting strong, being compact and hard to beat, and then catching teams on the counter-attack.
“That’s why we did so well in Europe, so well in the Premier League. We were probably playing a bit better with the ball then and could have been a bit better with the ball today, but I think it suits us best, when we counter attack teams, like Benrahma, Antonio, Bowen.
“When we can get past that press and we’re knocked out, I think we look scary going forward.”
The club hierarchy held firm in their support for Moyes in the aftermath of the Newcastle debacle, but the 59-year-old again found himself under considerable pressure ahead of the game against Fulham.
Full-time Rice suggested the Hammers’ knack for winning in similar circumstances, that term “shows everyone how we feel about David Moyes”, but insisted the result was just as important to the side. players than the manager.
“Nobody wants to play in the league, nobody wants to lose, especially with the team we have,” he said. “We have slipped below our standards this year. There were so many games where we were ahead and lost, so many games where we should have taken a point and somehow we lost.
“We put ourselves in a bad situation but now we know the importance of getting out of it, we’ve known that since we’ve been in this mix of seven or eight teams. Winning and doing it for each other, the club, the staff, everyone involved, it’s so important today.
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