The 2017/18 season was turbulent for West Ham United. It started off pretty shakily for former manager Slaven Bilic and as results continued to deteriorate, the board decided that enough was enough and that Bilic would face the exit door in November.
The sticking plaster was jobless David Moyes. Gold and Sullivan appointed the former Manchester United manager (and the rest!) to fi ll the void until the end of the season. Sure enough, once the last game of the season had passed it was made clear that Moyes’ would not be offered a contract and he departed the club. But the question remains – should the Scot have been offered a more permanent contract to remain in charge? Or were the board right to dismiss him?
When Moyes was offered a short-term contract in November, it seemed like an insult. It’s a move that says: ‘we don’t trust you enough to give you responsibility for more than a few months, yet we don’t really have any other (or cheaper) options’. That’s my take on it, anyway.
It also tactically deferred the pressure to have a positive January transfer window. The board were never going to give someone money to spend when he couldn’t even be trusted to take the club beyond May. Essentially, the man who had most recently resigned as Sunderland manager was brought in to do one thing. Keep West Ham in the Premier League. Job done. The Hammers stayed up, fi nished 13th with 42 points – a whole nine points above 18th position.
Alright, it’s not hovering around that elusive Champions League place we’re waiting for (!) but it’s a realistic and acceptable position to be in after a diffi cult season with minimal investment and maximum unrest. During the season, he was also responsible for what could have been the most defi ning element of some of West Ham’s best results and performances; making Marko Arnautovic play well!
The Austrian had, true to his reputation, hit a lull. His body language towards the end of Bilic’s reign was showing disinterest and frustration. Within days, Moyes had put a stop to that. It was a brave move to publically call for Arnautovic to prove his worth, but it was a risk that paid off. Marko was re-energized and inspired to train hard, bring 100 per cent to each game and prove naysayers wrong.
Moyes had achieved two things here; shown the players who was in charge (a tough ask given that his authority could have been undermined by such a short-term contract) and illustrated that players did have a desire to play for him. The positivity to come from this Moyes/ Arnautovic exchange rippled throughout the season and that’s something we all should be grateful for. What I’m trying to say is, it could have been worse!
Perhaps his management of the Andy Carroll “saga” wasn’t ideal in that the big target man probably should have come on to try and salvage something from the game against Man City. But it was another example of showing the players who’s in charge. No harm done, anyway. In terms of results and statistics, I concede that they don’t make for great reading. The Scot delivered a 29 per cent win ratio in east London in the league.
In 27 games with the Hammers in the Premier League, he also oversaw nine draws and 10 defeats. But I still maintain that given the circumstances, it could have been a lot worse. Injuries, suspensions, a non-existent transfer window and clueless owners all took their toll on Moyes’ side. It’s hard to see how things would have been any different with any other manager in charge.
Actually being given the chance to build a team is a rarity in such a results driven league. Managers are no longer a long-term investment. If nothing else though, Moyes deserved the chance to have a crack at a summer transfer window, structure a team around the likes of Arnautovic and be given a proper transfer budget. How else can a manager be more successful than keeping a team from relegation?
Clearly, David Moyes isn’t the most groundbreaking manager the league will ever see, he has his faults. I just feel like he was never given a fair crack of the whip. He got his pay day and in a way, I’m glad to see him out of the club with such a poisonous atmosphere looming thanks to tension between fans and board, and often fans and manager. The fact that he departed with his head held high, especially with a decent couple of performances to his credit in the latter games of the season, means he actually deserved the dignity of leaving the club having achieved his goals.
It’s a pity though that achieving, even exceeding his set targets, wasn’t good enough for Moyes to even be considered for a continuation of his tenure at West Ham. The appointment of Manuel Pellegrini might force important changes at the club – on and off the field.
So do I think that Moyes deserved to keep his job? Yes, I do. Do I think he should have kept it? Not for his sake, no. Let him and West Ham move on and start afresh.