David Moyes has lifted the lid on why he believes West Ham United missed out on their Champions League dream.
West Ham enjoyed one of their best ever seasons with the club recording its record Premier League points total.
The Hammers were in and around the top four for much of the season.
But they ended up finishing sixth – agonisingly missing out on that coveted fourth spot and a place at Europe’s top table by a single win.
West Ham agonisingly missed out on Champions League football by one win
Europa League group stage football – a first for the Hammers – was still a monumental achievement for West Ham given the troubled side Moyes inherited from Manuel Pellegrini.
But the season was tinged with smidgen of regret for the ambitious Scot given how close West Ham came to the Champions League.
Now Moyes has made it clear in his column in The Times why he feels West Ham ended up missing out.
And his evaluation is very simple. The injury that kept Declan Rice out for six games during the run-in.
‘No doubt’ Moyes reveals why he feels Hammers just missed out and his name is Declan Rice
“We won two and drew one and I have no doubt that losing him for six matches during the Premier League run-in is what stopped us getting in the Champions League,” Moyes told The Times when assessing West Ham’s season and Rice’s importance to the side.
“We finished two points behind Chelsea, who took the final qualifying place and things could have been very different if Declan had played in two huge games, versus Chelsea and Everton, which ended in narrow defeats.”
Moyes has previously stated you have to take your chances when they come along in football.
Many teams who were in transition or struggled last season may well improve next term.
West Ham must become the club ready to pounce during transition seasons
But there is a clear cycle in the Premier League where some of the top sides seem to struggle every five to six years.
That comes as a result of managerial changes due to the fact only four of the traditional top six can qualify for the Champions League.
Throw in the fact other sides like Leicester continue to challenge the establishment and that cycle is placed under even more pressure.
We saw it with a Dimitri Payet-inspired West Ham five years ago when they nearly made the Champions League while Leicester won the title.
West Ham – like Moyes’s Everton – need to become the club that are ready to pounce in those seasons and take full advantage.
They pulled it off last season by finishing in the top six. But they came so close to maximising the opportunity and getting in the top four.
Would it have been too much too soon? Who knows. But perhaps a steady build is best for a club that is clearly on the up under Moyes.