Conor Coventry: West Ham United U23 overcame many obstacles
After Monday night’s final round of matches, West Ham United U23s finished eleventh in Premier League 2, securing their place in Division 1 next season.
The development team played their last game of the season on Friday night, a 2-2 draw with Arsenal at Rush Green Stadium.
The score meant Leicester City U23 had the opportunity to overtake the Hammers on Monday, but a 2-0 home loss to Liverpool saw the East London side finish outside the drop zone of Division 1.
Having been at the bottom of the table as recently as mid-March, the U23s can be proud of how they recovered from a tough start to 2020/21 to earn 15 points out of a possible last 24. in the championship and propel itself two places.
Captain Conor Coventry was happy to see his side pick up the required points, especially after a troubled first half of the season put the Academy Football team on their backs.
“We are very happy that we managed to stay awake,” the 21-year-old told whufc.com.
“It has been a difficult season for us as a group, with a lot of difficult circumstances related to COVID and injury, and we have really overcome a lot of obstacles to stay on our feet.
“It seemed at one point that maybe we wouldn’t have done that, so we did a really good job getting into the position where we finished.
The season was the young Hammers’ first to rank first in Premier League 2, having won Division 2 with an unbeaten record in 2019/20.
The whole team has learned a lot playing at this level this year. We had a lot of challenges and tough games
If this progress was first reflected in the results of the Under-23s – but not in their performances, which deserved greater recognition – the experience was fruitful for their development, according to Coventry.
He explained: “The whole team has learned a lot playing at this level this year. We had a lot of challenges and tough games.
“Against Manchester City, for example, we were playing against a system which is really only played by their first team at the moment and which was really difficult to face.
“You can see, over the course of the season, we have become a lot stronger and we have become a much better team after playing these types of teams.
“Towards the end of the season we were one of the best teams in the league in terms of form, so I think we learned a lot and really enjoyed the challenges.
The development team’s early-season form was defined by a number of games where, despite dominating overall play and number of chances, errors at both ends of the pitch defeated them.
Because of the way they played in those games, however, Coventry and his Under-23 teammates have never lost confidence in their ability to turn things around.
The Republic of Ireland international continued: “I think the whole team believed in what we were doing because there were a lot of games at the start of the season where we played well and things just didn’t work out. not really unfolded in our direction.
“We should have finished the games, and we didn’t, but we always had a lot of confidence in the way we played and in our ability as a group.
“Of course it was difficult, and our confidence was sometimes tested, but we stayed together as a group.
We have really shown our strength and resilience to keep going and believe in ourselves
“It’s a testament to the character of the group that we ended the season like we did and managed to get out of a place where a lot of people would probably have said we were going to fall.
“It shows real strength and resilience, which I would say are two of the most important qualities in football.
“We really showed our strength and resilience to carry on and believe in ourselves, and in the end we had enough to get us out of trouble with a very good end to the season.
After completing their league season, a number of West Ham United U23s continue to train to support the first team’s quest to finish as high as possible in the Premier League table.
Dmitri Halajko’s side will then enjoy a summer break, before the start of their 2021/22 preseason schedule in the first week of July.
Coventry added: “I think it will be good for all of us to take a little break and then it will be all eyes on next season, when we all can’t wait to go back.
“Both as a team and individually, everyone will have different things they want to get out of next season, so it will be good to have a little break before you start preparing for another great season.”