Exclusive Sir Geoff Hurst Interview: West Ham Legend Discusses This Season’s Success And The Important Of Keeping Moyes And Rice Next Season
With this year’s Premier League season coming to a close, we sit down with West Ham hero, Sir Geoff Hurst to discuss the club’s recent success in the 20/21 season, how David Moyes has changed the team, and the importance of holding on to Declan Rice during this transfer season.
- Hurst says West Ham success was unexpected, and David Moyes has done a fantastic job:
“It’s been a magnificent season, and David Moyes has done an absolutely fantastic job. You see the team play today, and they are a different team. The work rates and the graft, and it’s quite evident from the camp, the team spirit. That is the important thing.”
- He believes that previous failure has been down to poor recruitment, onboarding players who were too old and not physically fit:
“When David Moyes came in, he analysed the work rate of the team, and all the stats they have, and the physical attributes of the side; the amount of running they were doing was probably bottom of the league.”
- Hurst expects West Ham to remain comfortably in the top half of the table over the next few years:
“What I expect in the next few years is a consolidation of that kind of performance. That we are to be sensible, getting some good results comfortably in the top half, not looking over our shoulder with an edge to closing.”
- Speaking on David Moyes staying at West Ham:
“They’ve got to try desperately to keep him because he’s done a fantastic job. I think David himself would want to stay. I don’t think David himself, unless it’s a disaster, would want to move on after just one year at the club.”
- Speaking on Declan Rice staying at West Ham:
“The Declan Rice situation, of course, is always an issue for a club like West Ham or outside the big boys.
I think had we been towards the bottom again, then he would look more likely to leave for the big boys. But playing now in the set-up of West Ham with a good team and the camaraderie may help him to consider staying on. But it’s always a big issue. And historically, we’ve let some really good players go.”
Well, let’s talk about another passion of yours, which is West Ham, and a team that’s had an incredible season. What have you made of their success this year?
Well, what do you think I’m going to say?
No, it wasn’t expected to be this good. I think we expected an improvement. I think what has happened over the last few years is that the recruitment process on the acquisition of players has been very poor. There’s no arguing about that. I think managers will always make a mistake. Probably every manager that’s ever managed at the top level has made a mistake with a particular signing.
We made a lot of mistakes in the recruitment of players. Whether they were too old or not physically fit. And when David Moyes came in, he analysed the work rate of the team, and all the stats they have and the physical attributes of the side, the amount of running they were doing was probably bottom of the league. So, he’s done a magnificent job in turning us round.
We’ve still got a long way to go. I’m not getting too excited. It’s been fantastic and brilliant. We’re not anywhere near the bottom as we have been for two or three years. Let’s be fair about it, looking over our shoulder. To be up there is absolutely magnificent.
Moyes is a fantastic manager. He’s had a couple of ups and downs, but he’s had a great track record at Everton, and he’s proved again here what a great manager he is. I think to be trying to get into top four was probably always going to be difficult, especially when you’re competing with the other teams and the money they spend, it was going to be very difficult.
What I expect in the next few years is a consolidation of that kind of performance. That we are to be sensible, getting some good results comfortably in the top half, not looking over our shoulder with an edge to closing. I don’t think I’m going to make any claims that we’re going to be close to the Champions League every year, and that we’ve got a chance to get in there at this stage of our development, with the money and the cost of players that you’ve got to accrue compared with other clubs and what they spend. But to be comfortably up there would be great.
I’m also not really too keen on the secondary Europe competition. I think that can be quite negative in terms of traveling to these countries abroad. You’re in the middle of the week, and they’re coming home over the weekend and having to fight a tough game against any one of the Premier League teams. Even the bottom ones are going to give you a rough time if you’ve had a midweek trip. But I’d like to see just us comfortably placed, winning games, and having a good cup run. I’d just like to see us have a good cup run again.
That’s not so arduous. You only play half a dozen games during the course of the second half of the season, and that can be fitted in. And we’re quite capable of that. So comfortably placed, just pushing that top four or five. I think we’ve got a wee bit to go to– quite a fair bit to go to be competing monetarily with the big boys, as we know who they are. But it’s been a magnificent season, and David Moyes has done an absolutely fantastic job.
And you see the team play today, and they are a different team. The work rates and the graft, and it’s quite evident from the camp, the team spirit. That is the important thing. It’s similar to the team spirit we had in ’66. The camaraderie is such an important factor for a group of players to work together and play together. And can overcome the fact they may be a tiny bit deficient in the quality and the expense that other clubs have got. And they prove that consistently away from home.
So yes, it’s been fantastic, even my wife looking at the paper this last season and starting to talk about who we’re playing and how many games we’ve got left, and can we do it, which is quite remarkable for my wife who’s always been very supportive of my football career but she’s not a woman that picks up the paper and says: “How are West Ham doing?”. So that’s been quite a major shock in the Hurst household.
It must be nice just looking at league table and starting from the top, working down, rather than from the bottom looking up.
That’s a great way of putting it. That is a great way of putting it. My wife, again, telling me: “We’re fifth now and we’ve got a game in hand, and we could go to fourth” and so on.
You’ve all got a feeling, as David Moyes was saying. You’re there. You’ve got a chance. I never felt, being realistic and sensible even as a Westhampton as I am, that we were going to do it. But it’s been an absolutely magnificent season after the trials and tribulations of the previous two or three years, without argument.
You picked Declan Rice in your starting 11 for England. How important is it that West Ham keep him and David Moyes? Or is it more important to recruit cleverly in the summer?
Well, it’s important to keep the manager with what he’s done. I mean, again, it comes to finance. I don’t know what the contract is, if it’s finishing, what money they’ve got. I know there is a pandemic, and all clubs, all businesses are suffering financially. So that’s got to have an impact at all clubs, including our club.
But they’ve got to try desperately to keep him because he’s done a fantastic job. I think David himself would want to stay. I don’t think David himself, unless it’s a disaster, would want to move on after just one year at the club. We’ve got a great stadium. We’ve got 60,000 fans, and he’ll want to repeat what he’s done. So I think he’ll want to stay, and subject to common sense, hopefully he will do.
The Declan Rice situation, of course, is always an issue for a club like West Ham or outside the big boys. In my day, Man United came and offered the club a couple £100,000, which was the biggest fee then. And Ron Greenwood, back when the managers and the clubs had the power, Ron Greenwood sent a telegram back to Matt Busby and said no, thanks, and that was it. And that’s never bothered me.
I achieved all I wanted to do at West Ham and England. And not for one second has it ever bothered me not having the opportunity to play at Man U. But today, that’s changed dramatically. When the big boys come in for the players at West Ham, I go back not too long ago, the Rio Ferdinand’s and other players like I mentioned, they tend to move on. So that’s going to be an issue. A big issue for the club and for Declan.
There’s no doubt, not only in his club form he’s fantastic, but he’s also very comfortable at international level. He’s been playing now in that position and playing very, very comfortably well and doing an absolutely brilliant job, and he’s a very important member of a team that stops things happening in the middle of the park.
It’s a difficult decision for him as a young player. I think probably with us doing so well last year that may have helped a bit. I think had we been towards the bottom again, I think then he would look more likely to look at the big boys. If West Ham had been struggling, as we have been, for two or three years. And playing now in the set-up of West Ham with a good team and the camaraderie may help for him to consider staying on.
But it’s always a big issue, and historically, we’ve let some really good players go as you know. Not only to play for other clubs but who have gone on to play for England. Rio Ferdinand and others, which we know. So it’s difficult. A very difficult one.
If you’d like to hear more of Sir Geoff Hurst’s thoughts on the current state of football in the UK, you can find more exclusive interviews discussing topics such as England’s chances at the EURO 2020 tournament, the impact of technology in football, and the issue of dementia amongst long-standing players.
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