By Sonia Twigg, PA
David Moyes believes it would be a “hell of an achievement” if West Ham could reach a European quarter-final for the second successive year as he prepares for the first leg of their Europa Conference League match at AEK Larnaca.
Last season the Hammers were knocked out in the semi-finals of the Europa League by Eintracht Frankfurt, but while that campaign ran alongside a strong domestic performance, the Londoners have struggled in the Premier League this term.
Despite a 100 per cent record in the Europa Conference League group stages, on the domestic front West Ham have been battling relegation and travelled to Cyprus just one point above the drop zone.
Next stop: Larnaca 🇨🇾 pic.twitter.com/HJ536Grp54
— West Ham United (@WestHam) March 8, 2023
However, Moyes believes winning a trophy remains a significant achievement, despite the competition being the lowest rung on the European ladder.
“To try to win any trophy as a football manager, or a player, very few get that big opportunity to do so,” Moyes said.
“Jose Mourinho showed you how much it mattered to him and he is a serial winner (Mourinho led Roma to Europa Conference League glory last year).
“It was really important to us last year – we wanted desperately to win the Europa League but we couldn’t quite get past the semi-finals.
“It would be a great achievement if West Ham could talk about being in the quarter-finals of two European competitions back-to-back. That would be seen as a hell of an achievement.”
West Ham crashed to a dismal 4-0 defeat at Brighton at the weekend, having seemingly turned a corner with a 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest and closely-fought defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup.
However, Aaron Cresswell insists the pressure of the Hammers’ league position is on the players as well as the manager, with the visit of Aston Villa on Sunday coming either side of the two legs against Larnaca.
Preparations underway for the #UECL ⚒️ pic.twitter.com/XNFbylQl7t
— West Ham United (@WestHam) March 7, 2023
“It’s not just the gaffer that’s under pressure, it’s the players as well,” Cresswell said.
“The XI that goes out and the boys on the bench, we’re all there to perform. It’s not just the gaffer who is under pressure, it’s the players.
“We know the situation we’re in. We’ve got to try to drag ourselves out of it.
“We’ve had a couple of days’ training, keep going, keep progressing, stay positive and stick together.”