Pub Talk: ‘I am of the very firm view that the players are still playing for Moyes…’

Our team sit down to put the world to rights...

Dawson, Randolph and Coventry out: What were your thoughts on these departures?

Geoff Hillyer: No issues with any of those – they’re hardly a surprise. Dawson has wanted out for a while and he’s one I’ll miss, but he’s done a great job for us. Randolph was never going to get game time. Coventry on loan to Rotherham feels astute – seven appearances for us, but I’m not sure he’s ready for top level.

Meirion Williams: I was sad to see Craig Dawson go which is a surprising statement seeing that I was nonplussed when he arrived. Dawson seemed to take the place of Ginger Pele, an old fashioned centre half who puts their body on the line when playing for the team. I would love to have seen him stay but family issues clearly led to his move. As for Randolph, I feel he’s had his chances to be our number one but never really taken them. As for Connor Coventry, I feel he is a player never really given a chance at the club.

David Meagher: I think that the departures of both Randolph and Coventry are for the best. We have plenty of quality in goal and midfield so unless we drop a level, they have limited roles in West Ham’s future. Dawson is a big loss as he has been a fabulous performer who, despite his lack of pace, has a decent pass on him and is a big presence at both attacking and defensive set pieces. Aguerd looks very impressive so if he and Zouma can stay fit we should be ok. I’ll miss the Dawson song at games though.

Lucy Farrell: I don’t blame any of them for leaving; Randolph wasn’t going to get any more chances, Coventry has been on the edge of the first team for too long and needs experience, and Dawson has personal reasons for departing. It’s such a shame to see Dawson leave though, he’s been nothing short of great for us. 

Danny Ings arrived from Aston Villa; What did you make of this piece of business?

GH: I was actually quite surprised. Moyes has been saying for a while that we weren’t signing anyone, and then we spend a good amount of money on a striker. But with Scamacca injured, Antonio’s the only fit striker we have – so I think this kind of move was necessary, and he knows how to score goals. It will also help when European competition resumes.

MW: My hope is that he gets fit and remains so. We signed him when he was still Villa’s top goal scorer. The question is: Will we use him in the right way? It seemed the oddest decision to bring him on for his debut against Everton but take off the playmaker that could have supplied him with the killer pass. Ings will be a good signing only if he stays fit and is used in the correct way. His fitness is a huge risk though.

DM: Oh dear, what are we thinking here? He is so injury prone that spaffing out £15 million smacks of big desperation. He is a capable hit man but we’ll be mighty lucky to get a decent return. 

LF: My first reaction was to be underwhelmed, but then I did a full 180. Like Meirion, I think if we use him properly he can be a really positive signing and could slot in nicely. I just hope he’s worth his pay packet and doesn’t live up to the sick note reputation.  

We’ve played five Premier League games following the winter World Cup, have you seen anything to suggest Moyes can turn things around?

GH: I felt that the performance against Everton was encouraging, as were some of the individual performances. I am of the very firm view that the players are still playing for Moyes, and if he can keep players fit, a better second half of the season awaits. Hopefully.

MW: I’ve attended all five and if I’m honest, I’ve seen very little change. I’m not a fan of Moyes as he is, in my eyes, one dimensional and will not change. He also seems to be continuously out coached and the game progresses. Leeds was OK but Everton, despite the win, showed nothing that made me think it will not go down to the wire come May.

DM: I’m sorry Meirion but I think we have improved a bit. Moyes has started to waver in his determination to rely on Soucek who is not only off form but slows our distribution in possession. Bowen is scoring and Benny has looked more focused. Aguerd looks quality. I was pleasantly shocked at Moyes’ astute and proactive substitutions against Everton, so maybe the old dog has a bit of flexibility left in him. Four points isn’t great but I think given the games it’s OK. Overall, I sense a small but encouraging improvement.

LF: I agree with Geoff and David, individual and collective performances against Everton showed that we can still be professional and progressive. Okay, the Blues were poor, but we can gain confidence from games like that. We’re still a good side, we have to remember that! 

First it was Declan Rice then it was Michail Antonio; Should players publicly discuss their future?

GH: I think that some of us are probably long enough in the tooth to understand that West Ham generally sell their players to bigger clubs eventually, so in that sense the news is hardly surprising. But it can be really upsetting too, especially for some of our younger fans. And it’s all about what, money? Don’t like it.

MW: I hate this but it’s part and parcel of today’s game. Get yourself on social media and put yourself in the shop window. I think that they are two very different cases. I see why Rice has done it as he’s being completely honest. As for Antonio, he’s just after a final big pay day and thinks that he’s better than he is. Then again he is Jamaica’s number one striker.

DM: I think that we need as few distractions as possible right now. That said, I think both players have been very loyal to the club over sustained periods and I’d be slow to get upset about what is just a reality of modern footy. 

LF: Yep, agree. It is a shame that it’s part of modern football. There are lines that can’t be crossed, but I don’t think either of these players have done anything that we have to turn on them heavily for. It’s disappointing as a fan, but let’s move on and not get distracted by headlines.  

How many points are we picking up this month?  

GH: Honestly? I think we might win two of our games. But I have no idea which two. Six or seven points maybe, if we pick up. Three at worst.

MW: This is going to be a very difficult month. If David Moyes is in charge, I fear we may only come away with one point. If we have a new manager bounce then who knows. Let’s be honest though I can see Moyes staying and it’s damage limitation against Newcastle and Spurs with then maybe a point against Chelsea, who should be there for the taking, and then who knows against Forest. But it’s four maximum in my eyes.

DM: For sure, it’s a tough sequence of games. I think we look a bit better organised at the back so maybe we can steal a win and a draw in the three tougher games. We really must beat Forest though. Never forget that we are West Ham so anything is possible but, in reality, I’d take your arm off for five points from these four games. 

LF: It’s a tough month! I’m going to be decisive and say we’ll get five points. I’d be happy to be proved wrong and get six plus though!  

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