West Ham recovery a reminder that they are new masters of bouncebackability


There have been many occasions this season when West Ham United have responded positively to setbacks. The manner of their performance against Tottenham Hotspur was the latest example of their ability to mount a recovery.

Following three days of soul-searching in the aftermath of their implosion against Newcastle United, West Ham grafted, dug in and demonstrated grit to claim a creditable point against Spurs. Very few of the home crowd left before the final whistle. No gnawing sense of dread swept around the arena.

Instead, the home support urged Jarrod Bowen & Co on to find a late winner.

Chances fell to Michail Antonio and Lucas Paqueta, but the duo were wasteful with their efforts. Yet the point was the least the hosts deserved.

It might have been different had Kurt Zouma, West Ham’s captain, not equalised so soon after Brendan Johnson’s opener earlier in the contest. But West Ham have a habit of bouncing back within games, too. This season, they have now secured 16 points from losing positions.

That maintains a trend from last term when they ranked fifth in the Premier League for coming from behind to secure some kind of reward.

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Zouma leaps to head West Ham level (Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

“It’s really good (that we’ve gained 16 points from losing positions) but, on the other hand, we need to stop conceding first,” said midfielder Tomas Soucek. “We’ve conceded first against Newcastle and Tottenham, so hopefully we’ll improve, but it’s great we’re able to get back in the game. We just want to make sure from our next game (against Wolverhampton Wanderers) we’re the side that scores first.

“This was a London derby against Tottenham and we wanted to produce a good performance for our fans. We beat Tottenham earlier in the season and now we’ve drawn, so we’ve gained four points from those two games. We are still seventh in the league and we want to play European football next season.

“After the loss against Newcastle we were all disappointed — I still feel disappointed — but we were determined to bounce back. I thought we created enough chances to win. Now with this draw, Saturday is another big game to hopefully get more points for European football.”

With adversity comes strength. Moyes and his players were in disbelief having surrendered a 3-1 lead at Newcastle to lose 4-3. But Zouma, watched from the stands at the London stadium by his friend Paul Pogba, reminded his team-mates pre-match on Tuesday of the harmony within the group and the need to stick together. His words had the desired effect.

This was a morale-boosting performance.

“I think it probably was (a fair result) in the end,” Moyes said. “I thought we did a lot of good things again, showed much more resilience defensively tonight than we had certainly at the weekend. We were much more aggressive. We had to be, against a really good team.

“But, overall, if you’re giving me four points off Spurs before the season started, I’d have shook your hand and walked away and said: ‘Thanks very much.’

“I’ve tried to instil that ruggedness, that fighting spirit. The boys showed lots of that. Sometimes you can show it and it doesn’t work. You’d have thought after four minutes ‘What’s going on here?’ after they score a goal not dissimilar to the ones scored at the weekend.”

Thankfully, that did not prove the prelude for more.

Moyes’ side have a penchant for proving doubters wrong and rallying together in tough times. When they lost 1-0 in their last-16 Europa League first leg tie against Freiburg, the manager and players referenced a previous comeback, against Sevilla in March 2022, as cause for optimism. In fine fashion, West Ham duly roared to a 5-0 win in the second leg with Mohammed Kudus scoring a goal of the season contender.

When West Ham were on an eight-game winless run from January to late February, there was speculation surrounding Moyes’ future. The manager, who is out of contract at the end of this season, said he had been offered a new deal in February but would “wait until the end of the season” before deciding whether to sign it. Yet, with tension ramping up, the home game against Brentford was viewed as a must win occasion.

And, again, the players displayed fighting spirit to secure a timely 4-2 victory, with Bowen scoring his first career hat-trick.

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Zouma, Bowen and Soucek celebrate the hosts’ equaliser (Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images)

The 5-1 loss to Liverpool in the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup is one of the nadirs of the campaign. Moyes was criticised for heavily rotating his team selection, but his decision was later vindicated by back-to-back wins over Manchester United and Arsenal.

A sickness bug was a contributing factor for the 5-0 loss to Fulham in December. Once the players recovered, they scored five goals combined without reply in their next two games against Freiburg and Wolves.

There are other examples. Remember the 3-2 defeat against Brentford in November? West Ham were in danger of seeing their promising start to the season fade. Yet that proved to be a turning point, with Moyes’ team going unbeaten in their next six games in all competitions.

In the coming weeks their togetherness will be key if they are to restore momentum, overcome Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen in the quarter-final of the Europa League and seal points in tough games against Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Chelsea.

There have been occasions this season when West Ham looked to be heading for a downward slope, but true to form they always find a way of bouncing back. Their ability to recover should not be under-estimated.

(Top photo: John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)





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