David Moyes’ managerial career spans over 1,000 games and two decades, bringing plenty of highs and lows along the way.
As the West Ham manager talks on the eve of one of the biggest games in the club’s history, he reflected on some of the near misses, those moments that got away and his hope that this time it would turn out differently.
“When you get this close,” said Moyes, “you are thinking. ‘Is this my turn? Is this my chance?’ I have to hope this is my turn.”
It’s been a season that has bought unimaginable drama, excitement and victories. The club are on the verge of making history and game number 53 of the season could prove to be a defining one. It comes just two years after the club were only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
West Ham along with Moyes have been reset and the progress has been extraordinary.
“I don’t want to go back and I don’t know anyone who wants to go back,” added Moyes. “I want people to see a new West Ham. A young team with people like Jarrod Bowen and Declan Rice who are huge stars.
“I want the young supporters to wear the jersey and support them.
“In the past, there have been greats like Trevor Brooking who have been talked about by the older generation but I hope the future generation will come and watch this team at a bigger stadium, hopefully games like tomorrow and a game maybe in Seville will help that.”
“It has been a great climb and I don’t see why that won’t continue,” he added.
That ascent has seen West Ham beat some big hitters in the Europa League this season. They were down after the first leg against six-time Europa League winners Sevilla, won 3-0 in Lyon and will need all the character and resilience to overturn a 2-1 deficit in Thursday’s second leg against Eintracht Frankfurt.
The German side will be roared on by a hostile, passionate crowd at the Deutsche Bank Park, desperate for their club to end a 42-year wait to reach a European Final.
“This is what the players want and what we want,” said Moyes. “For two years we’ve been watching with nobody in the stadiums. Football is for the supporters and we want them to make a great atmosphere.
“Any player, anybody who’s played football will tell you the semi-final of a European competition is huge for anybody. I want to take the team to the final. We believe that if we get it right we can do so, so we have to manage that.”
Moyes knows his team will need to step up from last week’s performance at the London Stadium and has called on his big players to rise to the challenge. Rice has continued to drive up the standards of this side, says Moyes, but he wants more from his captain and the rest of the team. One last push to seize the moment.
Moyes rarely does sentimental, but you got a glimmer when he spoke about his dad, David snr, 86, being at the game. He’s been there every step of the way cheering on his son on this amazing adventure.
Asked what it would mean if he could lead West Ham to their first European final since 1976, Moyes said: “It would be special. It would be even better if it were the final! He wants it to be the final. The biggest thing is that he enjoys it, and for me that we get to the final.”
West Ham’s tall order – Opta stats
- The last team to progress to a UEFA Europa League final after suffering defeat in the first leg of the semi-finals was Liverpool in 2015-16 (3-1 on aggregate versus Villarreal). Before this season, only four of the 17 teams to lose in the first leg of the final four have still managed to qualify for the showpiece.
- In their history as a professional club, Eintracht Frankfurt have only lost one semi-final match when playing at home (P12 W9 D2), losing 0-3 to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the DFB-Pokal in 1992-93. Their last semi-final match on home soil saw them draw 1-1 with Chelsea in this competition in 2018-19.
- Eintracht Frankfurt take a 2-1 lead back to Germany for the second leg. Eintracht have progressed from 22 of their previous 25 two-legged affairs in major UEFA European competition when winning the first leg, while they have never been eliminated after winning the first leg away from home (6/6).
- West Ham will face a German side away from home in Europe for the first time since the first leg of the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1975-76 – a 2-1 defeat away to Eintracht Frankfurt. West Ham are yet to win away to German opposition in three attempts, also drawing against 1. FC Magdeburg and losing to Borussia Dortmund in 1965-66.
- West Ham’s Declan Rice has made 182 ball carries in the UEFA Europa League this season, second only to Barcelona’s Eric García (191). The total distance of Rice’s carries amounts to 2,083 metres, more than 400 metres more than any other central midfield player in 2021-22.
West Ham can welcome back Craig Dawson after serving his domestic suspension, while fellow defenders Issa Diop and Ben Johnson are fit.
Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Jesper Lindstrom is doubtful for their Europa League semi-final second leg against visiting West Ham United on Thursday but defender Martin Hinteregger is fit again, coach Oliver Glasner said on Wednesday.
Lindstrom was injured in their 2-1 first leg win in England last week and missed their loss to Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga on Monday. Hinteregger, who also missed the league game, will be back following a brief illness.
“Hinteregger trained and I expect him to be at our disposal tomorrow. As for Jesper Lindstrom it will be decided tomorrow before the game. All others are fit,” Glasner told a news conference.
View from Frankfurt camp…
The Germans’ sensational European run, which included eliminating former European champions Barcelona in the previous round, has not been matched in the Bundesliga.
Eintracht have no chance of finishing in a European qualification spot, having dropped to 11th in the standings with two matches remaining and with their Europa League campaign their sole focus.
They are aiming to reach a European final for the first time since the 1980 UEFA Cup (vs Borussia Monchengladbach), when they won their last European trophy. Frankfurt could become the first German side to appear in both a UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League final.
Key men spearheading Eintracht charge
Daichi Kamada has been directly involved in 14 goals in 18 starts for Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Europa League (11 goals and three assists), including scoring or assisting in all three knockout stage rounds for the German side this season (Round of 16 v Real Betis, quarter-finals v Barcelona and semi-finals v West Ham).
Eintracht Frankfurt’s Filip Kostic has created more chances following a carry (moving 5+ metres with the ball) than any other player in the UEFA Europa League this season (9) – indeed, he has generated the most shots after a carry overall, between shots (10) and chances created (9).
“We should not be distracted by any Bundesliga result but approach the game for what it is. Second leg in a European semi-final. We don’t live in the past. We need to be fully focused tomorrow,” Glasner told a news conference.
“We expect a West Ham team that will try everything to win and reach the final. I told my players that our focus is to play to win. We will not attempt to manage any result.
“The order is clear: to play forward and to put their (West Ham’s) defence to the test.”
RB Leipzig and Rangers face off in Glasgow in the other semi-final following the Germans’ 1-0 home win in the first leg.
“The half-time score is 2-1 but we will not rest on this tomorrow and we will need an even better performance than in the first leg,” Glasner added.
“We need to operate as a team and can only win as a team. We must support each other in possession, secure the back and take care of counter attacks. We allowed a few in the first leg. We need to improve in those areas.”
Hammers fans attacked ahead of semi-final
A group of West Ham United fans were attacked and one was taken to hospital with slight injuries on Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s Europa League semi-final second leg against Eintracht Frankfurt, German police said.
Police said in a statement that two vans stopped outside a pub where West Ham fans had gathered in the early hours of Wednesday.
A group of 15-20 people, who witnesses said were Eintracht supporters based on their face coverings, got out of the vans, entered the pub and attacked the group of British fans, injuring one of them slightly, police added.
They then got back into the vehicles and left the scene. Police said they were unable to locate the vans, with one of them having a local number plate.
“The injured guest, a 34-year-old man from Britain, was taken to hospital for medical treatment,” Frankfurt police said in a statement.
German reporters Philipp Hofmeister and Tim Brockmeier, who work for regional broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk, said they were attacked by West Ham supporters during the first leg.