Dmitri Halajko: West Ham U23 ready for toughest test of season
After his side’s five unbeaten matches in the Premier League 2 Division 1, West Ham United U23 head coach Dmitri Halajko called on his players to channel their recent momentum into Friday’s tough home game against Manchester City.
The Citizens were confirmed as Division 1 champions for the first time in their history Monday night, having taken a ten-point lead over second-placed Blackburn Rovers with just three games to go.
Ahead of their visit to Rush Green Stadium, the Manchester City Under-23s scored an impressive 68 goals in just 21 appearances – comfortably the highest sum in the division – and conceded just 28, the second under. the league.
But Halajko’s young Hammers can not only gain confidence from their recent league resurgence – they have collected eleven points from a possible last 15, including a 2-1 win over Everton on Monday afternoon – but also periods of reverse matches. at the start of the day. March.
While the final score of 5-0 reflected City’s eventual dominance on the ball, the West Ham U23s proved more than a game for their top-flight opponents in the first half and, given the balance of the chances created, they might consider themselves unhappy to be behind. at the interval.
It’s going to be the toughest test we’ve had yet, but we’re in good shape to get into it, so hopefully we can fit in all the good sides from our last five games.
With that in mind – and certainly no shortage of bright spots to take from their last five games, which include a 1-1 draw against last season’s champions Chelsea and a 3-2 return to Manchester United – Halajko believes his team is ready for Friday’s challenge.
He told whufc.com: “Obviously the toughest test of the season is Manchester City right now. They were uncontrollable leaders at the top of the league, and they’re champions now, so it’s going to be a really tough game.
“We played them away last month, and they were better than us that day in a way at the end. We weren’t at our best, but they really took advantage of it. They are very dangerous and good on the ball, but their third final game is also so clinical.
“It will be the toughest test we’ve ever had, but we’re in good shape to get into it, so hopefully we can bring all the good points from our last five games to it.
“If we can do that, it should be a close game.”
As well as competing for important points in Premier League 2, Halajko believes that a key focus on Friday afternoon will be to maintain the high standards young Hammers have set for themselves in their recent good form.
With three league games of the season to go, the Hammers currently sit in 12th place, just behind Leicester City on goal difference.
Back-to-back encounters with Arsenal finally wrap up the domestic U23 season, and Halajko wants his players to keep the bright spots in their season fixture – starting with Friday’s test against City.
He added, “I think we’re in a position where we can say ‘let’s do the same thing again on Friday – keep doing these good habits’, and show them examples of that as well.
“We have footage from five games and we can show the players good examples of them doing things right.
“We can capture them by doing it right and say ‘can you do it again? Can you continue your race? Can you keep doing this every time, week after week after week, game after game after game?
“That’s what it takes to be a great pro, so hopefully they can keep going until the end of the season.”
West Ham United U23s face Manchester City U23s on Friday 23 April in a closed-door match. Kick-off is at 4 p.m. you can follow all the action with our live blog at whufc.com starting at 3:30 p.m.
Please note that Academy matches will be played behind closed doors until further notice. Only key personnel will be admitted on site and the match will be played without the presence of supporters, in accordance with safety guidelines and social distancing measures in place following the COVID-19 pandemic.