The metaphorical ticking clock on David Moyes’ time at West Ham United seems to be ticking ever louder with each passing month, as the credit in his success bank is quickly dwindling away. We have endured a steady decline in the last 15 months and the club is currently embroiled in a relegation battle.
Moyes’ only saving grace thus far has been our successful Europa Conference League campaign, and in the words of David Sullivan ‘a lack of better options’. Only two of the bottom eight clubs in the league have stuck with their managers: West Ham and Nottingham Forest.
Options were out there, and you can question whether they were quality options or not. But to me, it is unfathomable that after the money the club have spent that the board are still ‘happy’ with Moyes. This was the season we were supposed to kick on. Around £160 million was spent in the summer on new players: individuals that pointed to an exciting new brand that Moyes had promised to deliver upon.
We spent big on Gianluca Scamacca, an Italian international, albeit one that is still looking to make a big splash on the international scene; Lucas Paqueta, Brazil’s starting number 8 at the World Cup; and Moroccan star Nayef Aguerd to name just three new recruits.
The common theme in those three is that they all like the ball to feet. Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite worked out for Paqueta and Scamacca, who have been badly let down by the tactics Moyes is trying to implement. Moyes’ success at West Ham has been built around counter-attacking football, set pieces, and quick incisive breaks usually using the pace of Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio.
Paqueta and Scamacca’s play uses slow build-up play and then breaking the lines with a final pass. It was doomed to fail from the start. It is little surprise that the only thing that is keeping Moyes in the job is his success in Europe’s tertiary tournament.
It is, of course, difficult to win 10 in a row in any competition, so kudos for that, but to say the Hammers had a kind draw is an understatement. His substitutions, or lack of, at times are infuriating, and his inability to take the opportunity to kick on in January 2022, may well yet to prove his biggest regret.
We were flying entering the January window, we had secured qualification through to the last 16 of the Europa League, and our stock had never been higher. A fresh striker would have proven the difference between 7th and 5th and crucially may have carried us over the line in Europe.
Instead, Moyes settled with what he had, a team who were very obviously over-stretched and ultimately ran out of steam. Little did we know at the time, Moyes turned down the chance to sign future Manchester City signing Julian Alvarez, because ‘Micky was doing well for us’.
Antonio’s form at the time after his red-hot start to the season had begun to fall off a cliff. So, I think you can tell that come the end of the season, come what may, I would replace the Scot with a new face with some fresh ideas.
I do hope that for both the club and for Moyes that he can manoeuvre the Hammers to safety and for his legacy, that we win the Europa Conference League. Whilst David Sullivan may believe that at present there is nobody out there that is better than Moyes, he may well be correct judging by Crystal Palace’s recent appointment.
Surely, if the Irons can secure European Football via the Conference League and survive, some of the below names could be enticed to east London. There are four categories in my mind that should be considered and I will break them down for you in a Friends episode-style breakdown.
The One Who Does It the West Ham Way
Two names on this list would one hundred per cent understand what ‘the West Ham Way’ is. It is vital to me that the next manager buys into West Ham, and to his credit, Moyes has done that, but ultimately his style of play doesn’t get the fans excited.
The West Ham Way to me is simple, work hard on the pitch and entertain. One man who would certainly understand that is Michael Carrick. Why? Because it would have been ingrained into him during his Academy days. Carrick is currently excelling at Middlesborough after earning his stripes as assistant manager at Manchester United.
The Teesiders have gone from early-season strugglers to automatic promotion chasers during Carrick’s spell at the club. The football has been pleasing on the eye and he has impressed during his media duties.
Carrick’s appointment, if we were to pull it off, would represent a common trend in football: young progressive managers getting their chance in management. His style of play would, I feel, suit the likes of Paqueta, Bowen, Benrahma and Scamacca and with any fee received for Declan Rice burning a hole in his pocket, you feel that this could be the perfect next step on his career ladder.
One caveat I would put on this though, I think if ‘Boro gain promotion, I feel like the former West Ham graduate would like a crack at the Premier League with them first. If we cannot secure Carrick, next in the West Ham Way category is Will Still, a lot has been said about Still in the media of late.
The 30-year-old Football Manager-loving gaffer living his dream as head coach at Stade de Reim. The self-proclaimed West Ham fan has already stated his dream job in management would be in the dugout at the London Stadium, and so far in his early managerial career, it seems he may well be destined to achieve that dream one day.
Still’s unbeaten run, which stretched 18 league games, was only ended by Marseille recently, and is another manager who likes to play football the right way. High energy, high press and entertaining on the eye, you would also like to think that he would know what to do with Paqueta as well, judging by the fact he named the Brazilian as one of his top 5 favourite players.
A move to West Ham at this stage of his career may be a tad early, but if the unthinkable happens and we were to drop out of the Premier League, I don’t think we could do worse than to give him a shot at taking the Hammers back up.
The One With the Rebuilder
My number one pick for the job, but someone who will likely prove unattainable due to the phenomenal job he is currently doing at Turf Moor, Vincent Kompany. The sheer dominance of their title win is a credit to the Belgian. He has completely transformed the way the Clarets play.
When you think of Burnley, you think agricultural and long ball, effective but not necessarily what you want to watch week in and week out as a paying punter. This current Burnley side is everything you want to watch, whether his side’s dominance will transfer into the Premier League is a different question.
But he has instilled a winning mentality into that squad and filled it with young talent from across Europe using his contact book. What I love most about the former Manchester City skipper is the standards he sets.
Watch any clip of him in the dressing room after a defeat, he is laying into his players, explaining what is acceptable and what isn’t, the common theme being ‘effort and desire’. It is something that is easy to get behind as a fan and something that is at times dearly missing at West Ham.
The One With the Wildcard
The architect behind West Ham’s heartbreak in the Europa League, Frankfurt boss Oliver Glasner. Another man who plays hard and fast football, you would think West Ham would need to be in Europe to entice him away from Germany.
But Glasner has proved this season that he can handle the demand of both European and league football. The German club reached the knockout stages of the Champions League whilst maintaining their challenge for the top 6 in the league.
I was impressed by Frankfurt last season as they knocked us out in Europe, they were professional and well-drilled as well as deadly on the attack. This could be a man to grab before his stock gets even bigger.
The One With The Hollywood Signing
We all know that David Sullivan loves a big-name appointment to help stroke his ego. So why not try the line of Mauricio Pochettino again? It has been well-documented that Sullivan contacted the former Spurs manager during the World Cup break only to receive a hard ‘no’ from the Argentine.
But should the club stay up – it may well be worth another shot. It is well-known that the 51-year-old is looking for a ‘project job’ in London, where he and his family still live. I don’t think there will be a bigger rebuilding job in London than the one that will begin in the summer in Stratford.
With Declan Rice surely leaving, it will give a new manager extra money in the budget to build a squad around their personality and the style they wish to play. The former Southampton and Spurs boss is proven in the Premier League, so that will tick a lot of boxes for Sullivan – who will likely want a ‘safe appointment’.
The Argentine also has experience in taking sides deep in European Competitions, so if we do qualify for the Europa League that is another tick in the box for Poch. Heck, he took perennial bottlers Spurs to within 90 minutes of a Champions League title before Tottenham went all Spursy – I said he was a good manager, not a miracle worker at the end of the day.
Perhaps this job at West Ham could tempt him and help restore his reputation after a struggling spell in Paris. Failing that, I won the Conference League and Carabao Cup in my first season on Football Manager 2023, oh and came inside the top four. So, give me a call if you’re still struggling Mr Sullivan.