David Moyes has insisted West Ham are NOT in a relegation battle and are instead in a battle to qualify for Europe again.
The Hammers boss has sent a message of encouragement to fans, insisting his team is ‘not far away’ from where he wants them to be, despite their perilous position in the Premier League.
West Ham enjoyed success last season under Moyes, with a memorable run to the Europa League semi-finals and a seventh place finish in the league ensuring their spot in the Europa Conference League this term.
That run deep into Europe – and current form having qualified from their Conference group with three wins from three – has built up some credit for Moyes with the fans, but that has been put to the test at times this season.
The Hammers have failed to maintain their performance levels in the Premier League this term, having claimed just four wins from their opening 19 fixtures – including being beaten by Nottingham Forest and Everton in games many expected them to win.
They will resume action against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Boxing Day with the club 16th in the table.
Supporters’ moods were not lifted by the team’s form during their mid-season friendlies in a defeat to Udinese and draw with Fulham, and with the team sitting just one point above the bottom-three, fans will be dreading another relegation battle.
But Moyes says he and the team have their sights set firmly at the other end of the table, insisting they are still fighting for a European place despite their current position.
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Asked if West Ham are in a relegation battle when the Premier League season restarts this week, Moyes replied to White and Jordan: “No, I think I’m in a European battle to try and get back into Europe, like we’ve done in the last two years.
“I think that we’ve not been that far away in any of our results, and it sounds a long way away and it probably sounds farfetched at the moment.
“But I genuinely think we’re not that far away and expect us to get closer to the top than I do the bottom.
“Our pre-season targets have changed, because I was hoping that I would be in Europe, and I’m now saying that I want to still be challenging for Europe.
“I think I can do that in the second part of the season, so I have to do that. It’s a big job, but I didn’t think it was going to be easy in the last two years, and it wasn’t, and it’s certainly not going to be easy this year either.”
However, supporters will not be left enthused by the manager’s news about the club’s January transfer plans – admitting they haven’t got any.
Asked if West Ham will strengthen when the transfer window reopens in the new year, Moyes said: “Nah, I don’t think we will.
“Because I have to say the board did really well by us and spent a good amount of money in the summer, we brought in nine new players, which is more than anybody would want to do, really.
“But we needed it because we’ve got a European campaign again and because of the amount of games we played in the year before. Even this season I think we’ve played more games than any other Premier League team at this stage of the season, so we needed to add those players.
“But January will probably be a no, unless we need something through injury or someone comes available.
“But, in truth, I don’t see us doing much business, no.”
West Ham are now preparing for a festive face-off with London derby rivals Arsenal, with the Gunners flying high five points clear at the top of the table.
Mikel Arteta’s side will have a point to prove they can stay there when the Hammers come to town, and Moyes is looking forward to meeting his former Everton player in the dugout once again.
“It’s a great game to start because Arsenal are playing so well,” said the Scot.
“They’ve changed dramatically, and they’re playing some really good stuff, so it’s a tough game for us.
“But why not? You’ve got to play everybody and we’ve had some good games over the last few seasons against Arsenal, so I’m looking forward to another one.”
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