David Moyes defends extraordinary decision to pick Kurt Zouma after cat-kicking video
West Ham boss David Moyes stood by his decision to pick Kurt Zouma for the win over Watford despite the public backlash over his cat-kicking shame.
The France international was named in the starting line-up despite a police enquiry into a video showing him dropping, kicking and slapping his pet cat, and despite the club insisting that it “unreservedly condemns the actions of our player”.
And Zouma got a first taste of the outcry as his every touch was relentlessly booed by the Watford supporters.
The away fans chanted, among other things, “RSPCA, RSPCA”, and when the defender hit the deck after a challenge with Joshua King, they sang “that’s how your cat felt”.
Former West Ham players Joe Cole and James Collins, at the match working as pundits, felt the club had made a mistake in refusing to drop the 27-year-old.
Cole told BT Sport “I think it’s a miscalculation by the club. He could have sat this one out,” while Collins said on BBC Radio 5 Live: “I think there is a lot of anger and rightly so. I personally don’t think it is the right call.”
But Moyes said: “I’m really disappointed, and the club have taken all the action they can do at the moment behind the scenes. My job is to pick the best team and Kurt was part of that.
“I’m a big animal lover and it’s something that will have affected a lot of people.
“I was completely disappointed with what I saw and what I was told, but my job was to try and find a way to get a win for West Ham. Some people will be disappointed and I understand that.
“I’m someone who cares a lot about my dogs and my horses. The club are dealing with it as you well know.
“I’ve already spoken to him and we’ll move on as much as we can. We understand it’s not something everybody is pleased about. It’s a really poor situation.
“Was it the wrong call? My feeling was Kurt’s apologised. I understand lots of people won’t just accept that. But I had to do my job then, and that was to pick the best team I could.
“He’s obviously really disappointed and we’ve all felt it through the team and through the club. We are all of the same feeling it was completely out of order from Kurt and we didn’t expect that.
“I always felt I had to try and separate them and let the club do their side and I’ll do my side which is the football side. I think you are talking to one of the most disciplinary managers there is.
“It’s something which we are all really disappointed with and the club are dealing with it. Kurt is in our first XI so my decision was to play him.”
Asked whether he was surprised at Zouma’s inclusion, Hornets boss Roy Hodgson said: “I never concern myself with those things, that’s not my business.
“That’s the business of the club. I didn’t expect him not to play, he’s one of their better players and it’s something the club has to deal with.”
The furore completed overshadowed a 1-0 victory for West Ham which lifted them back into the top four.
Jarrod Bowen’s 68th-minute shot deflected off the heel of Hornets defender Samir to wrongfoot Ben Foster.
“It’s unfortunate to concede a goal like that. I think the game was evenly poised,” added Hodgson.
“But when they got the goal it improved their confidence and their composure grew. But if we’d been lucky we might have still got an equaliser.”
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