Jarrod Bowen admits England pressure impacted West Ham performances - ‘I didn’t deal with it very well’

Back on form? Bowen helped lift West Ham out of the bottom three  (Getty Images)
Back on form? Bowen helped lift West Ham out of the bottom three (Getty Images)

West Ham forward Jarrod Bowen says he played with “fear and anxiousness” during the first-half of the season due to the pressure of trying to win a World Cup place , admitting: “I didn’t deal with it very well”.

Bowen was one of the stars of last season, scoring 18 goals and registering 13 assists in all competitions as the Hammers finished seventh in the Premier League and reached the Europa League semi-finals.

The campaign ended with Bowen earning a first England call-up and featuring in all four games during the run of Nations League fixtures in June.

However, like several of his West Ham teammates, the 26-year-old’s form dropped off markedly at the start of the new season and there was little discussion over Gareth Southgate’s decision to leave him out of his 26-man party for Qatar.

“I was disappointed, I was close,” Bowen said. “You can put too much pressure on yourself - that’s what I did at the start of the season.

“As much as you want to put the World Cup at the back of your mind, you know you are so close, you know it is such a big opportunity that may never come again so, of course, I was playing with a little bit of fear and anxiousness and that is normal. I don’t think I dealt with it very well but I will learn from that.

“You are trying to do things safely rather than playing your game. You want to look good instead of doing what you normally do to look good. It’s hard to explain and people listening will just say: ‘Well you should have just played your game’.

“[But] when you know you are so close, you try to play safe and try to not make a mistake so someone can’t say: ‘You didn’t deserve that’. You then end up playing worse than you were. That was the case for me. I am honest about that, I am not going to hide away from that.”

Bowen scored only twice in his first 19 League appearances this term, but doubled his tally with two crucial goals in Saturday’s win over Everton, which lifted the Irons out of the relegation zone and possibly spared manager David Moyes’ job.

Capped: Bowen made his international breakthrough last year (The FA via Getty Images)
Capped: Bowen made his international breakthrough last year (The FA via Getty Images)

The hope for West Ham as a collective is that the result - a first League win for Moyes’ side since October - will prove a turning point, while Bowen is hoping to rediscover his best form and push for more international opportunities.

“It was the first time I’d experienced international football, I loved it but it was all new, all different,” he added of his spell with the national side in June.

“If you don’t score in a few games, people start asking questions and they’re probably right to do that, but I’d never dealt with that before. But you’d rather be in that position of having that different pressure, playing for your country and coming back and people expecting more of you.

“I am disappointed I didn’t go to the World Cup, but I am sure there will be plenty more opportunities if I keep scoring and playing well.”