Billy McKinlay has said that West Ham have nothing to fear against Liverpool tonight despite winning just once at Anfield in 60 years.
Add in the fact manager David Moyes has never led a team to victory away to Liverpool and their EFL Cup quarter-final appears a daunting prospect.
The Hammers’ only win at Anfield since 1963 came under Slaven Bilic in August 2015, while Moyes has drawn seven and lost 13 fixtures there. Yet assistant manager McKinlay says the new-look West Ham will not allow history to weigh heavily.
“If it was the same group of players who’ve been here 60 years, then we’d be in trouble,” McKinlay said. “It’s a new group of players going up there.
“There’s no reason to go there with any trepidation or a mindset other than it will be a tough game and we need to play well to win. Our record’s not great but hopefully we’ll change that.”
While West Ham are burnishing their reputation as a cup team to be reckoned with, McKinlay thinks Liverpool are almost back to their best this season. And Jurgen Klopp deserves a lot of credit for how he has reshuffled an ageing team that struggled for much of last season.
“The manager has been there for a long period of time,” McKinlay added. “The squad evolves and the players evolve. It’s not easy to keep changing the team and clubs are having to do it more and more now because players are moving more frequently than they have ever done.
“They are moving back towards the team that four or five years ago were probably in their pomp. They have terrific players, they have got a good style and will cause us problems. We’ll have to deal with that.”
The key to a Hammers surprise rests in unleashing the counterattacking prowess that hit new heights in Sunday’s 3-0 win against Wolves.
Moyes has repeatedly said that he is working to introduce a more expansive style. But McKinlay thinks transition football has taken on an unfairly negative reputation at a time when every team wants to dominate possession.
“You want more possession, you want more control of the games,” he said. “But it’s not the be all and end all. Teams have loads of good results without vast amounts of possession.
“We want the ball as much as we can. When we’ve not got it, we try to be as organised and disciplined as we can and then use the tools we’ve got.”