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First team

Media View: Expert insight on West Ham

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth will do battle with West Ham for the Betway Cup on Saturday.

The Cherries face the Hammers at the London Stadium in their second and final pre-season friendly (3pm kick-off).

Jason Tindall marked his first game as manager as the Cherries were narrowly defeated 2-1 by Portuguese giants Benfica on Sunday.

Tindall, whose father Jimmy was youth development officer at West Ham for 20 years, will take charge of his second game ahead of the Championship opener against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday week.

West Ham maintained their Premier League status thanks to an excellent run of results following the restart, David Moyes’ team picking up three wins and three draws in their final seven games.

The Hammers have staged the Betway Cup for the past five years, beating German club Mainz 05 to lift the trophy in 2018.

They were beaten by Werder Bremen in 2015 and 2017 and Juventus in 2016. Last season’s Betway Cup was won by Athletic Bilbao, the Spanish club beating the Hammers in a penalty shootout.

Ahead of the clash, afcb.co.uk caught up with Jack Rosser, who covers the fortunes of the Hammers for the Evening Standard.

afcb.co.uk: How has pre-season gone so far for the Hammers?

JR: They had a training camp in Scotland for a week and everyone seemed to enjoy the time they had there. David Moyes is always keen to have that sort of time with his players.

They played two friendlies simultaneously against Wycombe and Ipswich and split their squad. They won both games quite convincingly and put out strong sides.

Considering how much money they have spent over the past few years, they do have quite a big squad. They beat Wycombe 5-1 and Ipswich 4-1.

They played Brentford at the London Stadium on Saturday and won 2-1. Three games and three wins is all rather encouraging.

afcb.co.uk: Has there been much transfer activity at the London Stadium?

JR: At the moment, it’s mostly outgoings.

Tomas Soucek’s loan from Slavia Prague was made permanent before the end of last season and he’s a fantastic signing.

Jarrod Bowen is still getting up and running having signed from Hull in January and he’s another very good signing.

But it’s been rather frustrating on that front so far. They were really interested in Shane Duffy from Brighton but he went to Celtic on loan and they had also been monitoring Eberechi Eze before he went to Crystal Palace.

They would like to sign a central defender but there’s nothing yet. They have sold a couple of fringe players and have released Roberto.

Grady Diangana has been playing well but looks like he’s going to West Brom which would be a blow because he’s a player Moyes really likes. Moyes will be desperate to reinvest the fee and they really need a central defender and a couple of full-backs.

afcb.co.uk: How do you think they will fare this season?

JR: That’s always a very difficult question with West Ham!

Moyes has certainly got them more organised. Under Manuel Pellegrini, it was all a bit of a scramble towards the end. There was no real plan so, structurally, they look a lot better and they really clicked during the run-in.

They had some really good results following the restart, including beating Chelsea at home and winning 4-0 at Norwich when Michail Antonio scored all four goals.

If they can keep him fit and get Sebastian Haller firing and maybe shore things up at the back then mid-table should really be the base of their ambitions given the squad they have.

afcb.co.uk: How important would it be for the Hammers to keep hold of Declan Rice?

JR: It’s priority number one for Moyes.

Given the size of their squad, if they didn’t sign anyone and kept him, that would be viewed as a successful window.

It’s going to take a lot of money for anyone to sign him. Moyes has called it Bank of England money.

We understand that to be about £70million. Chelsea are interested but whether they can afford it after spending nearly £230m on everyone else is a question mark.

He’s the most important player at the club and Moyes wants to build a team around him. He wants to make his captain when Mark Noble either moves on or hangs up his boots.

Keeping hold of him would be the most important thing they could do this summer.

afcb.co.uk: In your opinion, which player is going to have a breakthrough season in 2020/21?

JR: Jarrod Bowen has already impressed and could be the one to watch.

He’s a really exciting player. He did well at Hull in the Championship and is really dangerous off the right-hand side. If he could add goals to his game, he could prove to be a fantastic acquisition.

Elsewhere, right-back Ben Johnson spent a lot of time injured last season. He’s a product of their academy and looks quite assured and confident for his age and is a player Moyes really likes as well.  

afcb.co.uk: From your limited knowledge of the Cherries, how do you think they will get on in the Championship?

JR: I think it all hangs on how they restructure and who they bring in.

If they can keep hold of some of their better players, they should have a good season.

If players like Dom Solanke and Sam Surridge start firing and have a good season, they could come straight back.

Getting over that really horrible end to the season is going to be important for Jason Tindall and, if they can do that, they stand a chance because they’ve got some really good players.

afcb.co.uk: Having attended Bournemouth University, were you rooting for a late West Ham winner on the final day of last season?

JR: I certainly was!

I love my trips to Bournemouth and love visiting a few old haunts and seeing some friendly faces. Hopefully, if they come back up quickly, we can start doing that again.

You can follow Jack on Twitter – @JackRosser_

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