Mitchell Hall > After a strong display and narrow defeat at the hands of the league leaders Manchester City last weekend, Vladimir Coufal was seen to remain on the pitch well after the departure of the opposition and his colleagues. The Czech full back was visibly distraught at the result, despite the admirable display, and this is telling of a subtle shift behind the scenes that is a large part of what has made this season so strong for us.
The key is attitude and dedication. Every player out there for West Ham works hard every game. Soucek, Bowen and Coufal especially cover incredible amounts of ground every time they set foot on the pitch (with Soucek leading the league in distance covered) and this allows the team to play how they want to. This is not just a question of individual work rate, but indicative of a larger change in attitude in the dressing room, with players getting on well and working together towards this season’s ambitious goals. Rice’s energetic and positive interviews after matches show the excitement that exists within the squad, with every point clearly meaning so much to every single player.
This is perhaps one of the key components that has hampered performances in recent seasons, even star players like Dimitri Payet and Marko Arnautovic did not seem to have the love for the club that this team share. When you have a team that respects and understands each other perfectly, as well as works relentlessly every match, then you have a team that has the potential to execute whatever the manager asks of them for the full 90 minutes. This philosophy has apparently bled into the team’s recruitment as well, Moyes suggesting he is only interested in young, hungry players that fit the model of the rest of the squad. Even the eccentric celebrations that produce mixed reactions amongst fans, they demonstrate the number one part of this team that makes it work so well.
When they’re out there, playing together, winning matches and chasing Europe…they are having fun. Ultimately if they enjoy their time on the pitch and cannot wait to get back out there, they are going to play their hearts out for the shirt. Coufal taking that loss so hard was not a sign of an immature and stroppy player being angry things did not go to plan. It was a sign of a team mentality that desperately wants to excel this club to new heights, where every point counts.