Moyes grateful in emotional speech after West Ham progress to Conference League Final

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By Martin Graham | 19th May 2023

Embattled West Ham United manager David Moyes showed great emotion after leading his side to the final of the UEFA European Conference League on Thursday night.

The Hammers have struggled this season in domestic competition but have been able to maintain a good standing on the European stage.

Moyes’ performance in the league already had fans questioning the board about the decision to leave him on as manager when other poorly performing managers were let go in the course of the season.

A record 13 managers were fired from several clubs across English football’s top flight in the ongoing 2022/23 season but Moyes, who was once in the relegation zone with West Ham, has managed to outlast them all.

The faith which the upper management of the Irons have in the 60-year-old looks to be paying off, as Moyes has now reached the final of a European competition. This is the first time West Ham have achieved this feat and it shows progress from their semi-final finish at last season’s UEFA Europa League.

Moyes is still fighting the drop in England but success in the Conference League could see their top flight status saved next season. The mechanics around this is shaky, but it is something that Moyes is happy about. After scaling through AZ Alkmaar on Thursday night, he thanked the club, the players, his staff and the backroom staff for the support he has enjoyed in an emotional speech while his players celebrated the achievement.

He also admitted that the club needs to be better in defence while at it, showing his full awareness of the trouble that lay before him as the season wraps up.

“For my staff, I thank them all,” he said to BT Sport. “They have to put up with me pushing, nagging, little time off. If you want to play in Europe and be successful the games come with that.

“AZ Played a really good style, the Dutch football is really good. They gave us a shock in the first leg, and I knew if I didn’t set us up in a deeper block they could punish us.

“Going forward the idea is to be better. We’ve brought in a lot of international players to get better, but we’ve really struggled this season. We had to go back to what gets you wins, and thankfully we did that.”

West Ham’s celebrations were met with hostility from angry Alkmaar fans after the game. The players had to step in and a brawl ensued. Police, however, restored order within 10 minutes of the brawl beginning and the Alkmaar fans who attacked West Ham’s supporters were arrested and escorted out of the stadium.

Pablo Fornals’ stoppage time goal now means that West Ham will now take on Fiorentina, who squeezed past FC Basel in extra time to set up the June tie for the second ever UEFA European Conference League final in history.

“We’ll need to wait for the dust to settle to see what it is but the biggest problem is that is the area where the players have all their families in, friends and family,” Moyes said of the violence.

“That is where the problem came and a lot of players were getting angry because they couldn’t get to see if they were okay. But look, I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and ask the officials what really happened.”

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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