What did you make of the performance?
The performance was not as high as some of the others but we were worthy winners. You have to win the game, we’ve hit the woodwork twice in the first half. But it took a good goal by Declan Rice, a good team goal. Declan stepped up, because he’s got the ability to get forward and score goals as well and we are trying to encourage him to do that as well. So hopefully he has more to come and he has two already in this competition.
Have you set Declan a target for goals this season?
No, and we’ve got to be careful because he does such a good job in front of the back four for England and West Ham, he got a goal for England as well a few weeks ago. So he’s beginning to show that a little bit more, he can do that. I think he’s more than capable of doing it. He’s got a great shot on him as well which we would like him to introduce to his game if we can get him in the right positions more often. But overall, as I said yesterday he is a really good developing young midfield player.
Are you pleased with the team spirit and the squad depth?
I’ve been really pleased with the quality of the squad over the last three or four weeks. We made a decision that I would try it. I wanted to see if we can do well in the Premier League and I want to be in this competition after Christmas time, if possible.
Trying to do it and not letting the Thursday/Sunday effect come into play I’m doing everything I can to try and stop that. I’ve been in the competition a few times myself, and actually think there are a group of players which I can change and move around maybe there’ll be games as we go on in the competition where I choose not to do that but I think at this time in the season with the amount of games we’ve got, I think it’s the best way to try and use them all, and have an unbelievable spirit amongst the players and today it was great to see a lot of them be part of it.
Were your substitutes precautions for injury?
[I was] just trying to make sure that we share the minutes the best we can. Mickey hadn’t played in the League Cup game and some of the other players had played a few more games so we just balanced that out the best we can. Obviously we’ll also try to win the game as well so we’re trying to make sure that we get players on and, while the game was only 1-0 we had to make sure that we kept at it so I couldn’t make any other changes. We possibly should have been a couple of goals up at half-time with the ones we hit the post and bar with so maybe I could have made more changes but at that moment it got us the result which was the most important thing.
You spoke yesterday how Declan is one of if not the best midfielder in Europe, how big a chance is this competition to show that he can do it in the Premier League and on Thursday nights?
Declan is so important to us. But if we get the right opportunities to rotate him, we didn’t play him in the League Cup game against Manchester United so we did rotate him. He’s young, he’s fit and I feel that part of his development is to play European football.
You see so many of England players at the top level, the Champions League games on a Wednesday night, playing a Saturday or a Sunday. So, we feel as if we can use Declan on Thursday and again on Sunday but we’ll look at it as we go along and if we feel as if that had to change, but I think it’s more to say that the squad of players we’ve got at the moment are doing a great job and for us to be able to make the changes tonight and get results is really positive.
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There was some trouble in the stands. Some missiles were thrown at Aaron Cresswell in the corner. Did you know about the missiles? Was some of the behaviour of the West Ham fans throwing bottles disappointing?
Well, we want to be a club in Europe, we want to be there regularly and because of that we want to behave correctly. I don’t know who started it, don’t know how it really all started but what we don’t want is that reputation because we want to be a club who’s competing and challenging, and we want to be invited into these competitions to be seen as a club which can travel to Europe and everybody welcomes us because we have great supporters so I don’t know exactly how it started, I don’t know where it started, but I was obviously aware of some things being thrown.