David Moyes hopes to be able to use West Ham United’s surplus experience compared to AZ in the semi-finals of the Conference League, Voetbal International reports.
The former Manchester United head coach has spoken highly of AZ Alkmaar’s model ahead of their first-leg clash at the London Stadium but admits reaching the final of a European competition is a big achievement.
“To reach a final, for any team, is always a big thing,” Moyes said when asked what the final would mean to him. “Last season it was great to be in the semi-finals. This season we did a great job to be in the semi-finals again. We hope to go one step further and be in the final.”
Moyes would not declare West Ham the firm favourite against AZ, despite the huge financial differences . “We have a lot of respect for AZ and the way they play. They’re having a great season. So it will be a very tough opponent. Any Dutch team you play against is always good. They are always good football teams, well trained. So it will be difficult for us.”
Discovering AZ was not a very big task for the West Ham scouts, claims Moyes. “I already knew something about them, their club model, their way of training. They have a lot of young promising players. They use the Moneyball principle. That’s a nice structure if it suits your club. I saw two more players against Lazio who play in the youth. They have a lot of fantastic talents. Dutch football is known for that. Bringing in talented players.”
“Maybe we are also the favourites, but we are playing against a young, hungry opponent,” the Scottish coach concluded. “Of course we have much more experience than AZ. We have to make use of that. To provide ourselves with the best possible starting position.”
The Hammers will be looking to test their squad depth ahead of the home tie as Kurt Zouma is most likely unavailable due to an ankle injury while goalkeeper Alphonse Areola is set to replace Lukasz Fabianski in goal. “Good chance the game comes too early, but we’ll see how he feels tomorrow and then we’ll make a decision,” Moyes said of his central defender at the press conference in London.