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Q: 2020/2021 Where will we finish up this season?
a. Top Four, Champions League here we come
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e. GSB have derailed our season before a ball has been kicked, the Championship beckons
27%
  



Exiled In Surrey 6:07 Sat Feb 6
'I always know where he will be' — Czech mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal becoming one of the
From the kippergraph

Exclusive interview: West Ham United team-mates at the heart of everything that is good about David Moyes' buoyant side right now

Tomas Soucek is in the process of explaining the tactical instructions he receives from David Moyes, detailing the movements he has to make and the positions he has to take, when Vladimir Coufal cuts him off.

“I’ll put it more simply,” says Coufal, the smile already forming on his face. “Do everything. Score a goal. Win the game for us. It’s easy, just three sentences.”

At this they are off again, throwing their heads back and laughing in unison. It is a common occurrence when talking to the pair, who — it soon becomes clear — share a connection that is just as strong off the pitch as it is when they are rampaging forward in West Ham United colours.

“When I have the ball, I always know where Tomas will be,” says Coufal. “And I know he will always help me. It’s automatic.”

Soucek and Coufal (or ‘Suk’ and ‘Coufi’, as they call each other) are fast becoming one of the great double-acts of the Premier League. Team-mates for years, at three different clubs and also for their country, they are now taking English football by storm with their unique blend of Czech ferocity and fearlessness.

“He is crazy,” says Soucek of his friend. “We needed these characters on the pitch. When we got Vlad I knew for sure that he would be like that. But it is only one side to him. Off the pitch, he is a normal person again. He is a great character.”

The latest opponent to experience Coufal’s fierce competitiveness was Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish, who found himself marked out of the game by the West Ham right-back during their impressive 3-1 victory at Villa Park this week. “We had some arguing with Jack, yeah,” says Coufal. “Sometimes when I am upset or angry, my emotions turn and I look like a psycho. My eyes go wide.”

Coufal is quick to point out that he had help in dealing with Grealish (“the best player in the league at this time”), from Soucek and team-mate Ryan Fredericks. “I said before the game I had to buy a lasso and be like a cowboy for Grealish,” he says, with another of those laughs. “But the manager gave me Ryan and Tomas instead.”

The win at Villa was the latest step forward for this West Ham side, who go into Saturday’s match at Fulham only two points behind fourth-placed Liverpool. Once again, Coufal dominated the right flank. Once again, Soucek found the net. It was the midfielder’s eighth goal of the campaign already, to add to the three he struck to help them avoid relegation last year.

“It is getting better and better,” says Soucek, one of the Premier League’s few genuine box-to-box midfielders. “Every game I feel more comfortable, in the changing room and on the field. I think we have changed mentally from last season.”

The success of Soucek and Coufal, and the enormous strides made by the team under Moyes, should be seen as a triumph of the club’s recruitment. It takes courage to go searching for players in the Czech Republic, and it takes expertise to identify Soucek and Coufal as capable of making an instant impact in the Premier League.

They are not the only examples. Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma have added a new dynamic to the attack, while Craig Dawson has been faultless at the back. Moyes describes it as looking for the “right type” of players.

West Ham have been accused of wasteful spending in the past. In Soucek and Coufal, especially, they have the best possible proof that times are changing. Soucek cost £19 million, while Coufal arrived for just £5.5m. Between them, they must now be worth at least £65m, even in this deflated market.

Both players arrived from Slavia Prague, where they had impressed in the Champions League. Soucek came first, joining in January last year, before he helped to convince the club to sign Coufal in October. As well as being team-mates at Slavia, they had also played together at Slovan Liberec in 2017 and with the Czech national team.

“I only confirmed to the club that Vlad is the right person for the Premier League,” says Soucek, who at 25 is three years younger than Coufal. “I was totally sure that I was right, and Vlad immediately showed it on the pitch.”

Coufal, for his part, will forever be grateful to Soucek for leading the way. “Tomas opened the Czech doors to the Premier League,” he says. “If Tomas came here and played badly, no one in the Premier League would look for any more players in the Czech Republic. But Tomas played very well, and the whole Premier League is looking at him like, ‘wow’. It opened the door for me. I hope I am not closing it...”

This time it is Soucek’s turn to jump in. He may have pushed the door, but he thinks Coufal has since thrown open a “big gate” for Czech players. “I hope it can help all of Czech football,” adds Coufal.

Given his style of play, the full-back’s introduction to the English game was fittingly fast-paced. He played the full 90 minutes of West Ham’s 3-0 win at Leicester City only two days after joining the club, and has started all but one league game since.

“In Czech we would say they have thrown me into the river and I have to swim,” he says. “I have not had much time to prepare, but maybe sometimes it is better when everything is quicker.”

The presence of Soucek has made the adaptation easier, in matches and beyond. They spoke “every second day” during the window, waiting to see if Coufal would get his move, and Soucek was then able to show him around the club and recommend an English teacher once he arrived.

It is the little details that show the strength of their friendship. When Coufal had his first experience driving on the left side of the road, he asked Soucek to help him through it. “The first drive was a little bit crazy,” says Coufal. “I went to steer too much to the left, near the parked cars. Tomas was a little bit scared.”

And when Soucek scored a late winner against Everton last month, he provided a special celebration for his compatriot. Coufal’s wife had given birth just a few days earlier, back in Prague, and Soucek dedicated the goal to his friend. He summoned Coufal to the corner flag and together they acted out the ‘rocking the cradle’ motion.

“I was so delighted that Tomas did this celebration,” says Coufal. “Because I probably only score one goal each season (Soucek interjects: “Yeah, in training”) so Tomas did it instead of me. I have to say thank you to him.”

Moyes has said there is just one problem with Soucek and Coufal: he cannot keep them away from the training ground. “If we have a day off, we still want to come in,” says Soucek. “Sometimes we want to train and our fitness coach tells us ‘stop, stop’. We tell him we need it. It’s sometimes a little fight between us.”

On the pitch, Moyes has given Soucek the freedom to search for goals and cause havoc in the opposition area. Coufal has to be a little more careful — in his role near the touchline, he receives a constant stream of instructions.

“When I am running next to the manager, he is still shouting at me and telling me about my position,” he says. “Sometimes when I want to attack too much, he stops me. It’s like he has a remote control.”

For Coufal, there is one aspect of English football that he is yet to fully experience. He eagerly awaits the return of fans, and has been told by Soucek how powerful the atmosphere can be. When Soucek made his West Ham debut last year, there were tears in his eyes.

“A full stadium, how they were singing our song, with the bubbles everywhere,” says Soucek. “It is the highest point of my time at the club. I wanted to cry a little bit.”

The next time he hears those supporters and feels those emotions, he will have a comforting and familiar presence alongside him. Soucek and Coufal: reunited again, flying the flag for Czech football and leading the way for West Ham.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Exiled In Surrey 5:55 Sun Feb 7
Re: 'I always know where he will be' — Czech mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal becoming one of the


charleyfarley 6:39 Sat Feb 6

You're welcome.

Dandy Lyon 10:44 Sun Feb 7
Re: 'I always know where he will be' — Czech mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal becoming one of the
As much as love seeing this, I do have an underlying worry that we’ll wake up to a story that Soucek’s missus has stabbed him after finding him in bed with Coufal

normannomates 2:39 Sun Feb 7
Re: 'I always know where he will be' — Czech mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal becoming one of the
Coufal probably has a little slider on the back of his swede that moves his eyes from side to side.

normannomates 2:36 Sun Feb 7
Re: 'I always know where he will be' — Czech mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal becoming one of the
Genuine proper pals aren't they.

Credit both to themselves and their Country.
Coufal.. You have brown eyes.. Lyin eyes.. Bette davis eyes... this lad has REPKA EYES

Fortunes Hiding 7:24 Sat Feb 6
Re: 'I always know where he will be' — Czech mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal becoming one of the
Loved reading that..

Walking out to the pitch, they are talking to each other. Seems they are very close and that can only help the team.

plankton 7:15 Sat Feb 6
Re: 'I always know where he will be' — Czech mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal becoming one of the
Surely the title of the piece should have been

CZECHMATES ?

Lily Hammer 6:49 Sat Feb 6
Re: 'I always know where he will be' — Czech mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal becoming one of the
I love these two.

We should go all out for Alex Kral to give depth to our centre midfield, as long as Soucek gives the thumbs up, that is.

charleyfarley 6:39 Sat Feb 6
Re: 'I always know where he will be' — Czech mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal becoming one of the
Thanks Exiled enjoyed that

Lato 6:38 Sat Feb 6
Re: 'I always know where he will be' — Czech mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal becoming one of the
He will soon change his mind when he sees it on a Saturday night when the Pubs and Clubs reopen!

the exile 6:33 Sat Feb 6
Re: 'I always know where he will be' — Czech mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal becoming one of the
Superb!

Northern Sold 6:21 Sat Feb 6
Re: 'I always know where he will be' — Czech mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal becoming one of the
Superb piece in the Sun re Soucek.... absolutely LOVES Romford .... !!!





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