West Ham boss David Moyes says “the best is yet to come” from the club as he prepares for his first European final in 25 years as a manager.
Moyes is hoping to lift the first significant silverware of his managerial career when West Ham take on Serie A side Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final on Wednesday.
But it is clear the 60-year-old views the game in Prague as the continuation of a journey rather the end of his time at the Premier League club.
“To be in a European final is a thrill,” said Moyes. “For an experienced or a younger manager, to reach a final is one of the pinnacles in football.
“It is the start. I am enjoying being here and I have always said the best is to come.”
The game can bring what has, at times, been a tortuous season to a glorious conclusion.
West Ham have not won a trophy since their FA Cup triumph in 1980. Their only European success came in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1965, with a team including Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, who won the World Cup the following year and in tribute to whom a statue now stands outside the London Stadium.
Yet despite this lack of recent success, some fans believe even if West Ham win it should mark the end of Moyes’ tenure.
The Scot still has a year left on his current deal and, in an interview with the London Evening Standard, he confirmed his intention to remain at the club despite being singled out for criticism during a heavy defeat at Brighton in March, a banner demanding ‘Moyes Out’ being displayed during a win at Fulham the following month and a new vacancy at boyhood club Celtic following Ange Postecoglou’s departure for Tottenham.
“There are too many good things about what we have done to stop now,” he said.
“When I saw that banner it was hurtful because it drains your power and strength to do things. When people continually question you though, it drains you. I’ve got to say it wasn’t a good time. Did I feel lonely? Hugely.”
Moyes will not feel lonely in the 20,000-capacity Eden Arena.
A huge family contingent will be supporting him at the game, including his 87-year-old dad, David Sr – not that Moyes is expecting pre-match words of inspiration.
“He will be in the pub,” he laughed.
“I do have a huge following of family,” he said. “All of you who have children and see your kids being successful will know how it feels.
“My dad is here tomorrow. Hopefully we can give him something to remember.”
Moyes describes the game as his “biggest night” in football but dismissed suggestions winning it will see him become a legendary figure at the club.
Yet that is what awaits.
For midfielder Tomas Soucek and defender Vladimir Coufal the night could be even more special given the Czech internationals are both playing at a stadium so familiar from their time together at Slavia Prague.
“When I realised one year ago the final was here, I told all the players it had to be a big goal for this year,” he said.
“This place, the pitch, the dressing rooms, the tunnel feel so comfortable. Now we are here I can connect the two teams I love.
“It is the chance to lift a trophy and, for me, it is special the final is in Prague.”
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