Moyes plays for the long-game but fans fume as Irons park the bus

The manager knew there was no chance of West Ham winning in Manchester

To say the reappointment of David Moyes has been unpopular could be the biggest understatement since James A. Lovell said: ‘Houston, we have a problem’.

Actually he said: ‘Houston, we’ve had a problem’ but the first quote sounds better. But much like any misquoted statement, things get banded around on social media, picked up and passed off as the truth, with little regard for their source or validity.

Moyes’ apparent unpopularity therefore, could be a figment of my imagination, something that I’ve been exposed to so many times, I’ve just started to accept that it’s the truth. But is it the truth? Several West Ham related Facebook pages I’ve been on have a maximum of 13,000 members. 

Many of those memberships are duplicated on other sites. The London Stadium holds 60,000 people and there are many more West Ham fans around the world. Do they ALL think David Moyes is incompetent?

As you know, I am no Board apologist, far from it. In fact the Pravda-style propaganda surrounding the club means that there is no room for my latest book in the club shop, or even for a feature in the match day programme. Which is a shame because free speech, and constructive criticism (not just simply slagging off) should be welcomed at this particular juncture in the club’s history.

I recently did some analysis and found that the promised land of 40 points has only been required on three occasions since the Premier League trimmed down to 20 clubs in 1995-96. Ironically of course it was West Ham who proved to be one of those three exceptions going down on 42 points in 2003. But that was the last time 40+ points was needed: 17 years ago.

Having conducted my analysis I have worked out that we should only need 36 points to stay up this season, and if it goes down to goal difference, anything better than -24 should be sufficient. Love him or hate him, I would be gobsmacked if David Moyes hadn’t carried out his own, similar analysis.

Moyes got slaughtered on social media for failing to attack or show any real ambition to take anything from the game at Manchester City. But what is the guy to do? This is a classic lose/lose situation. Our recent record against City is wretched and the chances of coming away from the game with anything were reflected in bookmakers’ odds of 16-1 for a Hammers victory. 

Ridiculous odds for a three-horse race. But you don’t see many bookmakers riding a push-bike.So for the Liverpool game we set up with a back four and played a little more progressively. We played a lot better but ultimately ended up with the same number of points. 

We’ve also, as at the time of writing also potentially lost Fredericks and Soucek to injury — one could argue we tried too hard in both games.We set up defensively and for 35 minutes or so it went to plan. You never know, might nick something from a corner or a free-kick. 

With VAR in its current confused state there might even be a penalty. But luck aside, don’t do anything stupid. Don’t pick up any unnecessary injuries and above all, don’t lose like Villa and Watford did because that goal difference is worth an extra point.

In the end, to come out of two consecutive away games against the top two with just a minus three dent on the goal difference is a great result. 

I am convinced that Moyes’ plan, his primary objective, will have been to come away from those two games with a goal difference still competitive with the teams around us. In that respect it’s mission accomplished, Houston. Now concentrate all our efforts now on winning home matches against Southampton, Chelsea, Wolves, Burnley Watford and Villa, and away games at Norwich and Newcastle.

It’s not a risky strategy if you think about it. Because if we win four of those games we will have the 36 points I think we will need. I don’t see three other teams getting 36 or more. If we fail — then we simply were not good enough anyway, it would not have mattered what tactics we adopted against City and Liverpool. 

The key to staying up will be to stop conceding three goals in every home game and giving away hard-earned leads.Moyes has come in to put out fires again and I believe he will do that. Those who quote his poor win percentage at West Ham forget that he has not yet served a full season, and on each occasion, he has taken over the reins of a team devoid of confidence and ideas.

I know we want exciting attacking football. I know all about the West Ham way. But I’d rather go through a bit of pain now than a whole season — or more — or exciting attacking football in the Championship.

I have every confidence in Moyes and whilst I wouldn’t ever tell anyone else how they should think, I can’t see him going anywhere before the end of the season.  So I think we need to back him, Kevin Nolan, Paul Nevin and the rest of the team. 

I would have loved to see a younger, more progressive manager appointed, but it would be too much of a big risk at this stage. Think what you like about Moyes; the mess we are in is not his doing.  The ultimate responsibility for the appointment of managers lay with the owners, and they have got it wrong more often than not. So if you want to point the finger, you know where to aim it.

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